It was a bustling Saturday at the 2018 Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend and one could easily lose track of time in the immense ballroom I mentioned last time. Regardless, I was determined to attend at least a couple of the celebrity panels – especially the one featuring some of the child actors from Stephen King’s IT. Horror conventions are in no short supply of players from older projects, so I give Horrorhound props for boasting actors from 2017’s biggest horror blockbuster. The film debuted the same weekend as last year’s Indianapolis Horrorhound and none of us could have predicted how it would have smashed Box Office nor change the world of fandom. Somehow it destroyed all conventional wisdom and endeared us to a new Pennywise the killer clown despite the thankless job of filling in the footsteps of Tim Curry. In fact, I’ve yet to attend any genre event since that hasn’t had at least three cosplayers dressed as Bill Skarsgard’s new version. Unfortunately, Skarsgard was not in attendance here which was a pity since I’ve no doubt he’d of had conventioneers falling at his feet if he had. Fortunately, most of the film’s “Loser’s Club” was here and willing to come together for a panel. I’m glad that Jason and I arrived early because that room was packed by the time Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak), Wyatt Olef (Stanley Uris), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), and Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie Denbrough) walked in.
Moderator: (To the audience) Okay, we have one rule and this absolutely NO questions are to be asked about IT Chapter 2. Also, please be nice, these are kids! (Turns to panel) The biggest thing in this movie was the love and camaraderie among all of you. That’s what really sold this movie. Were you given an opportunity to bond?
Wyatt Olef: We were given a couple weeks before filming to hang out. We also played games and did activities to encourage bonding, like looking straight into each other’s eyes for like two minutes. Stuff like that really, really helps.
Jack Dylan Grazer: Or how about that one activity where one of us would walk in and the rest would lay dead on the floor? That was fun.
Jeremy Ray Taylor: A lot of sleepovers and a lot of pranks during those sleepovers helped, too.
Moderator: The other thing I loved about this movie and something I had the privilege of interviewing the Director (Andy Muschietti) and Producer (___) about, was the fact that it’s more about facing your personal demons than anything else. Can you tell us how you sort of fed that into your characters?
Jack Dylan Grazer: Well, I think the scariest thing for these kids was really their life at home.
Wyatt Olef: I think it all works as a metaphor for those who are growing up. Going through puberty is like fighting demons, basically. I think there are things here that anyone can relate to even if you don’t find the monster scary.
Chosen Jacobs: Because our characters were all going through so much on a personal level its what bonded us as unlikely friends.
Moderator: So, Jackson, I have to ask…how do you like being a horror icon now? (Audience cheers)
Jackson Robert Scott: Well….(audience laughs). Well…I mean…I don’t really know what to say. This was my first movie so it was pretty exciting. You get to travel and go to places like here. When I went to Toronto where they filmed IT that was like the first time I had been in Canada. I got to see all the touristy things and I got to meet you guys (looks at the other kids) and that was the best part about it. (Collective “Awwwww” from female members of the audience)
Moderator: Well, I think we’re now gonna role the questions out to this massive crowd of people here.
Audience Question: Jack, what was your least favorite scene to film?
Jack Dylan Grazer: Gosh that’s a hard question to answer since I was miserable the whole time. No, just kidding, everything was the best.
Jackson Robert Scott: Oh, yeah…well what about that time you got strung up by that hobo? (audience laughs)
Audience Question: Did any of you guys get to meet Stephen King?
Everyone on the panel said, “No.”
Audience Question: Do any of you guys “ship?” (Slang term for fictional characters getting together romantically)
(Audience laughs and panel collectively agreed there was no “shipping” going on)
Audience Question: Are any of you guys afraid of clowns?
Chosen Jacobs: Well maybe if one was coming after me with a knife or something but otherwise, no, I am not afraid of clowns. I was more afraid of places like Chucky Cheese. I would beg my parents to go and then just start crying as soon as I got there.
Audience Question: What was the first horror movie that you watched?
Wyatt Olef: I’ve watched like one horror movie in my entire life.
Jack Dylan Grazer: Loser! (Audience laughs)
Chosen Jacobs: The first horror movie I was Insidious.
Jackson Robert Scott: The only scary movie I ever saw was IT.
Audience Member: Have you ever met anyone from the 1990 TV version of IT?
Jack Dylan Grazer: Yes, we met Seth Green.
Audience Member: Jackson, can you do your scene where you yell “You’ll float too!” for us?
Moderator: Okay, lets turn down his microphone first or he’ll kill us all.
Jackson Robert Scott: Does a perfect rendition of his character escalating his voice while screaming, “You’ll float too,” “You’ll float, too,” “You’ll float too!!!!” and the audience goes nuts.
Audience Member: Do you guys ever hang out?
Jack Dylan Grazer: (Jokingly) Never!
Jeremy Ray Taylor: Actually, we do.
Jackson Robert Scott: Sadly, I live far away, so I can’t hang out with them.
Audience Member: So how did it feel becoming celebrities?
Wyatt Olef: Well, we got sort of used to it hanging out with Finn Wolfhard because, at the time, Stranger Things had gotten popular.
Jeremy Ray Taylor: It was insane. I was recognized at a Starbucks and just for doing something I loved doing.
Female Audience Member: How does it feel being young guys with fangirls?
Wyatt Olef: I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re very thankful for all our fans. All the attention we’ve gotten since has been amazing.
Chosen Jacobs: I love coming to things like this because everybody is so happy to see you. It’s better than Disneyland because when you go there, babies are crying, but here everyone is really awesome and it’s so amazing just feeling the love.
Audience Member: What is your most memorable fan encounters?
Jack Dylan Grazer: One time I passed by someone dressed as “Eddie” and when she saw me she was like, “Oh, my God!!!” And I snapped a picture with her and signed her cast and it was really great.
Chosen Jacobs: I think it’s awesome when a celebrity recognizes you. Like meeting the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) was awesome.
Audience Member: Jackson, how many “Georgies” have you seen at this show?
Jackson Robert Scott: At least seven. (points to an audience member) I see one there!
Moderator (to Jackson): Are you having a good time?
Jackson Robert Scott: Yeah, pretty much, but they all have better answers than me. (Jack and Olef start laughing and making sad faces)
Audience Member: What was it like seeing yourself on merchandise?
Olef Wyatt: We better let Jackson answer first.
Jackson Robert Scott: Well, one time when I was five. When I started acting, I always dreamed of myself being an icon…which I am! (Audience and the rest of the panel starts laughing). I always dreamed I’d have an action figure like Superman or Captain America.
Jack Dylan Grazer: Or Shazam! (Grazer has a role in the upcoming SHAZAM! By DC Comics)
Jackson Robert Scott: Everyone please give Jack a round of applause. (Audience cheers and Jackson turns to Jack). You’re lucky I’m a nice guy. (Jack and Olef are leaning on each other laughing). Anyways…I asked my mom, “Hey mom, do you think I’ll have an action figure?” and she says, “I don’t know,” like any parent would. About a year later I see myself as a Funko Pop in Pinewood Studio in Toronto. So my dream came true.
Audience Member: What was the most fun part of shooting IT?
Jackson Robert Scott: (Looks at the other kids) That would be hanging out with you guys.Although, when you become real friends with them, you’ll see their other side.
Moderator: Jackson, are you familiar with the term, ‘throwing them shade?’
Jackson Robert Scott: I’m guessing I am.
Chosen Jacobs: Doing late-night karaoke with everyone. That was really fun.
Jack Dylan Grazer: Oh, I would have to say the sleepovers. All seven of us in one room, was so fun.
Olef Wyatt: Mine was filming stuff when we were together like doing fake interviews. We’d challenge ourselves to do like ten skits per night that would progressively get worse as we went.
Jack Dylan Grazer: Best time of my life.
Jackson Robert Scott: Finn loves ‘80s music and we did an ‘80s themed karaoke. At the end party, all of you guys and some of the ones who played the bullies dared me to stick my entire face in the cake. I had cake in my ears and had to shower for an hour and I even saw, this is going to be gross, icing in my boogies. But the cake was great and everyone ate around my faceprint!
Audience Member: What was it like working with Bill Skarsgard?
Jeremy Ray Taylor: It was intense. We were doing this scene and before filming he just started screaming at us randomly and we’d team up and start screaming back at him. And we were so riled up that when they started rolling it was probably one of the best scenes.
(While Taylor was answering, Olef Wyatt and Chosen Jacobs, take their microphones on either side and keep putting it in Taylor’s face. At one point this caused the moderator to interrupt with the comment, “What is this degenerating into a Marx Bros routine?”)
Moderator: So what is he doing when we see that grin?
Chosen Jacobs: He can really do it and it’s pretty scary. He’s a tall and ominous dude on his own but when he’s in character, it just adds this whole fear factor thing.
Olef Wyatt: He’s a really cool guy, though. Outside of filming he’s really sweet and just a really nice dude.
Moderator: I think we have time for like one more question.
Jackson Robert Scott: Remember, I haven’t been talking. (Audience laughs)
Jack Dylan Grazer: (Jokingly dramatic) Come on folks, he’s just a child, ask him something!!!
Jackson Robert Scott: You know pretty soon you’re not going to see this beautiful face. Pretty soon I’m going to get hit with puberty and won’t look like I did in the movie. (Audience erupts)
Audience Question erupts as the moderator concludes the panel.