Weekend box office expectations, angst about critical reception, and other assumed movie star pressures didn’t seem to be on Bill Hader’s mind when we spoke about It: Chapter Two recently. Instead, the SNL legend turned award-winning TV auteur and star seems to be keeping things in perspective, talking about how cool it is to be in a movie that his kids might someday watch at a slumber party (like the college kids who tell him about their experiences discovering Superbad, which incredulously came out 12 years ago).
He’s also keen to acknowledge that the pressures of being the audience’s surrogate in a horror film don’t compare to those felt on the set of something like Barry, where he’s responsible for issues A-Z that might pop up during production. Ever the film obsessive, however, Hader didn’t actually treat the experience of making It: Chapter Two like it was some kind of killer clown-filled vacation. Instead, it sounds more like a summer camp where the objective was to learn a few things while running around and laughing your head off.
We spoke with Hader about those lessons learned, his relationship to the film’s hallowed source material, the benefit of bringing comic relief to the mix, and his specific horror tastes.
Really enjoyed the movie. I can tell you some of the buzz I heard coming out of the theater — people were loving what you were doing in it.
Oh, good. Good.
One woman was like, “I am so obsessed with him” [does a middling impression]. That was one thing I heard in the elevator. So I just wanted to pass that along that she’s “obsessed.”
[Laughs] No one’s obsessed with me.
So, this is the first big project you’ve done since you took on Barry. Obviously, that’s a huge commitment of time and energy. Just being on the set for this and not having to be in control or worry about everything — was that a happy adjustment?
It was great! [Laughs]
Like a vacation!
It was wonderful. But I also got to learn a lot from watching (director Andy Muschietti) work. He’s really great, so it was nice watching him work, and I had a lot of fun in that sense. But yeah, I didn’t have all that pressure on me. I could like, walk away and sit down. [Laughs]
Anything specific that you picked up from watching Andy?
I just liked how patient he was. He’s really ambitious, and he has a lot of ideas, and he’s very clear with what he wants. He does a lot of takes. I don’t think I’ve worked with anybody that does as many takes as Andy, but he is so respectful about it, you know? It’s never that kind of tyrant thing. And he’s also empathetic to you and what you’re going through, going, “I know this is hard, and I understand that. Here’s what I’m looking for.” And then you’ll get it, and you go, “Oh, good, I got it, cool!”