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Losers Stick Together: An Interview with ‘IT’ Stars Chosen Jacobs and Isaiah Mustafa

It’s not often on this site that we are treated to a doubles interviews — even less so when the two people we are interviewing happen to be playing the same character. However we were fortunate enough to fly over to Derry, Maine to visit the hometown of the Loser’s Club, and sit down with IT: Chapter Two stars Chosen Jacobs and Isaiah Mustafa. Thankfully, no evil clowns popped up in the middle of this one!

NOC: Thank you both for allowing us to visit with you today! The movie is so much fun! So Chosen, as a veteran of dealing with psycho-killer clowns that eat children, did you have any tips for Isaiah joining the fold in Chapter Two?

Chosen: You know, not at all. I met with the thespian before shooting started. And I looked in his eyes and knew he was taking it seriously. And when you see a man with that fire in his eyes, you have nothing else to say but ‘Go on.’

What was it like seeing yourself grow up?

Chosen: You know, we are all so fortunate to have such good looking older versions. I don’t even look in the mirror anymore! I just have a picture of [Isaiah]. So it helps me. On days when I don’t even want to wake up, and go back to sleep, I think I gotta wake up to get to his level! So it feels pretty good.

Isaiah, in this movie, Mike grows up to be the town historian of Derry. And he’s got this responsibility to be the watchman and the guardian in case IT comes back. Why do you think that responsibility fell to Mike.

Isaiah: The short answer is because he never left. He stayed there. Those who left, something happens to you. When you leave your memory fades. And it’s like that when you grow up. When you leave your hometown, you don’t think about it that much anymore. But when I go back home to Oxnard, California, I go “oh wow, there’s that thing over there! Oh wow the Popeyes is still open! Get out of here!” But when you talk to your friends who live there, they’re like “yeah man. The Popeyes has been here ever since you left. It didn’t leave with you.” So they remember everything because they’re living it, and it’s the same for Mike. In his case, he was living that fear that the thing they battled would come back. So he’s been holding on to that, anticipating, waiting for that 27 year cycle to come up again. And when he sees it bubbling back up, that’s when he starts getting worried and doing more researching, and calling back to his friends.

If you look as far back as 20 years ago, it used to be the case that people of color would be among the first to die in these horror movies. And I feel like as an industry, we’ve seen things evolve to having people of color hold down the fort when it comes to horror movies now. If you look at Us, or Get Out, or IT: Chapter Two, with you both being part of this strong ensemble. How does that make you feel, and where do you see the future of diversity in these big-budget genre movies going?

Isaiah: When I was growing up watching TV and movies, you saw that all the time. But you also see Black characters be thugs or drug dealers. But now as things are progressing, you see them now playing doctors or detectives. Characters portrayed by people of color. But now what you’re seeing even more of are the filmmakers. Directors, writers, producers, becoming people of color. And I think that’s where [the industry] is going now. We’re starting to hear stories from people of color, so you’re starting to get different perspectives on life that people may not have seen before.

Chosen: For me, it’s a very cool thing. I’m younger so growing up in the 2000s, you’d see that transition happening. But I think it’s always a phenomenal thing. The more diversity you get in any industry — film, sports, medicine — you have the possibility to gain new perspective. And I think it’s just very cool to be an actor at this time to where you can get fulfilling roles, even in horror. And as that progresses, certain genres where you couldn’t get that, you can get that now. And I’m happy to be part of a project that’s pushing the culture of film in our modern day world.

The movie at it’s core is really about people undergoing a trauma and repressing memories. If I could ask, do you guys have any horrible memories from shooting that you would like to forget about?

Chosen: I remember, we were shooting the final scene. And we were out by this creek or something. And up the hill was this amazing ice cream place… And for some reason, something got in my eye. I thought I was good, but I wasn’t good. And the medic had to keep washing my eye out. And I’m just like snotty and bothered. And I couldn’t even enjoy my ice cream! I still ate it because I really wanted it badly. But I definitely didn’t get to enjoy it the way I’d hoped to enjoy it. And that was one day I wish I could forget, because of the ice cream!

Isaiah: I wish I had some ice cream! But that would have been the problem! I’m lactose intolerant… There were two days I can remember. One was in the library. It was getting long. It was Jessica’s last day. We were all going to miss her. And the missing her was starting to manifest itself in frustration because one of us was leaving. The other day that stands out the most was when everyone was starting to go down the “splash” set. Because it was a huge stage! And the splash was practical. And we were literally running around it being chased by this camera cart. And people were just falling down, pulling muscles and stuff. To give you a sports analogy, when you have the first team in there at the start of the game, everyone’s confident. But then when your left tackle falls out, and you got a replacement, you’re like “cool he’s there, but he’s not the left tackle we started with.” So when the photo-double came in to do the running, we were like “you got a heavy responsibility. You’ve got to do this.” So it was just one of those days it was starting to get frustrating towards the end, but it worked out.

Isaiah, what characteristics of your character Mike would you like to take away from this experience?

Isaiah: So there was this one part where the group separates in the first movie, and you see Richie and Bill separate in a scuffle… The vulnerability in that moment [was great]… You can tell Mike wanted to stay, but he had stuff to do. But that innocence and vulnerability definitely.

And Chosen, are there any characteristics of your adult counterpart Isaiah that you’d like to take away with you?

Chosen: I would say his ability to see the nuances in a character. Because a lot of times you make a character. But it’s a very different skill to watch a character and take away the nuances. Because with the nuances [I made], I just did them naturally. So the fact that Isaiah knew it and saw it, I’d see him act and go “oh my god! I did do that!” And that’s such an awesome talent as an actor that very few actors have.

As part of the fun, we had a chance to sight-see around the town, capturing it in all of its terrifying glory! Here are a few pictures from our experience there!


IT Chapter Two lurks into theaters September 6, 2019!

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