FAN FEST EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Jeremy Ray Taylor talks playing Ben in ‘IT’ and being a part of the Stephen King World!
While Halloween may have passed, we are still all about the thrills, horrors and slashers here at Fan Fest – especially when it comes to one of our favorite movies of the year, IT.
The film earned approximately 671.4 million at the box office, and certainly wowed audiences all across the world. IT was by far, one of the best-remastered films that we have seen. Andrew Muschietti has truly created a masterpiece, and we are highly looking forward to the sequel.
The entire cast and crew are also looking forward to the sequel, which will bring back all the ‘Losers Club’ kids as adults with some flashbacks of their days in Derry, Maine as kids. One of those cast members who is highly looking forward to it is Jeremy Ray Taylor who plays the character of Ben Hanscom in the film.
Jeremy has truly made a mark in his acting career at such a young age. He has films such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, Ant-Man, and 42 on his roster.
I had the honor of speaking with Jeremy the other night, and he was quite enthusiastic to share his IT experience with me!
Jules: Can you walk me through your audition process? What was it like and how did you feel when you got the role of Ben?
Jeremy: My audition process was actually really stressful. So I got this audition and at first I didn’t want to do it because all my friends were over and I was excited because I hadn’t seen them in a long time! Then I got this audition and I did it and I was like ‘wow, this is a pretty cool thing!’ and then I realized it was by Stephen King, you know, the legendary writer scares a lot of people!
Then I got a call back from Andy and he was like ‘here you go, here’s the part’. I got a call from an agent and I freaked out, ran around my yard a few times…. got a little light headed. I’m going to be honest, it was very surreal and awesome!
Jules: Pretty cool! What did you have to do for your audition?
Jeremy: For my audition, I did the scene with Beverly when I’m fumbling with my bike and everything at school, and I also did the fight scene between the losers club when Eddie gets dragged away by his mom.
Jules: Are there any characteristics of Ben that you see in yourself?
Jeremy: Well, I think I’m pretty smart! (laughs) I have never been bullied and I would never wish that upon anyone but luckily I’m homeschooled so I don’t have to deal with that. So I think I don’t totally relate to my character, but I do think that I would do anything for my friends when it comes down to it.
I think it is totally easy to play someone who is not yourself, which may sound a little weird but I think it is easier to play someone who isn’t you than someone who is you.
Jules: I think that it is amazing that you as actors and actresses can be someone you’re not! It is not something that someone can easily do and I really find it admirable and inspirational!
Jeremy: Ah, thank you so much!
Jules: One of the most iconic scenes for Ben in both the book and each of the respective movies is the faceoff between Ben and Henry Bowers and his gang on the kissing bridge. What were some of the challenges you faced while filming this scene?
Jeremy: Actually, on the day that we filmed that bullying scene with Nick I had a migraine. BUT I pushed through it and I did it, you know, I got pushed around and everything. Actually, I got punched in the face by Nick, accidentally in real life. It sucks because he ran away and went to hug my mom! But it could have been a good take!
So, they had to cut the scene… but it could have been a good take!
Jules: What was the first scene you filmed with Bill Skarsgard when he was donned up as Pennywise? I’m sure it was terrifying, he sure scared us and we were just watching the movie!
Jeremy: I think the very first scene I filmed with Bill Skarsgard was when we run into the house to save Eddie because he was getting cornered by Pennywise. It was crazy because the five minutes before the take, when Bill gets into character, he does his crazy movements and he screams and it’s terrifying! (laughs) It was really crazy, but I was really proud of the makeup artists and how they made him not like the miniseries but at the same time it was just as good.
Jules: Did you get a chance to read the book or see the miniseries before taking on the role?
Jeremy: I was actually twelve whenever I got the script so there was no way that my mom would ever let me read the book. It’s a really long book too!
Jules: IT has some scenes that are scary, romantic and even comedic. Out of all of those scenes, which did you enjoy filming most?
Jeremy: That’s a hard question! I think out of the three being romantic, comedy and horror…. my favorite was probably the horror. I don’t know why it was just really fun to get in character and to freak out for the scenes and stuff. It was really fun!
Jules: Going from playing a bully in Ant-Man to playing the bullied in IT, what was that transition like? Do you prefer playing the bully or the bullied?
Jeremy: It was a really weird transition going from playing the bully to the bullied actually. I think that it is really fun to play both but at the same time, it’s really hard to play the one that is the bully. At the time I was bullying this girl who was like seven years old, and I felt horrible. At the same time, it is really hard to play the one who is getting bullied. It was so hard for them to be mean to me because they were all so nice.
So it is really hard to play both! I think I would say I like playing the one who gets bullied, for some reason.
Jules: Did you get the opportunity to meet Stephen King yet? Or are you hoping to sometime in the future?
Jeremy: We have not met Stephen King yet, but I would love to. It’s very sad, I would love to. I think he wants to keep his things with filming and book writing apart. I think he wants to keep those two things separate.
Jules: IT is a worldwide phenomenon by Stephen King. Everyone knows IT. Aside from IT: Part 2, are there any other Stephen King projects you would like to be a part of if they were to become a movie?
Jeremy: Stand By Me would be one of them. I would love to be a part of that!
Jules: That is a great choice!
Jeremy: Yeah! I would love to do Stand By Me.
Jules: Being as all of your characters are adults in IT: Part 2, who would you like to see play the adult version of you?
Jeremy: I think my dream person for my adult character would be Chris Pratt!
Jules: What do you miss most about being on the set of IT? All of you had fantastic on-screen chemistry, it seemed like you guys grew really close?
Jeremy: I don’t know! I have so many things from being on set. Being on set for eight hours a day and hanging out with the cast and having a laugh in between scenes. I think the main thing that I miss is just hanging out with the cast and crew.
Jules: Are there any scenes involving your character that you wish could have been added to the film?
Jeremy: There were a few things that they took out with Ben from the bullying part, there was a little bit more on that. It elaborated a bit more on how bad the bullying part was. So I think I would have loved more of that. Other than that, I think it was overall amazing!
Jules: Going forward into the future, would you like to take on more projects in the horror/thriller genre like IT or something lighter and more comedic like Ant-Man and Alvin and the Chipmunks?
Jeremy: I think for future projects I would love to do horror, but I would also love to do comedy. I would love to do everything, really. I really want to diverse in my acting career.
Jules: When the trailer for IT first hit social media, it was the most watched trailer worldwide. How did you feel, watching that trailer after all that hard work and dedication? Were you excited?
Jeremy: Before it came out, I was terrified. Because I didn’t know how it was going to do. A lot of people were upset because we were doing a remake and it would ruin the iconic-ness of IT. So I was terrified at first but when it dropped and it broke world records, I freaked out. It was insane. So it definitely relived a lot of nerve from filming it!
Jules: So you’re a horror star now! Here is a fun question for you! If you had the choice to be locked in a room with one horror slashers, and you can’t choose Pennywise, who would it be?
Jeremy: Oh no! If I had to pick one… I think it would be Freddy Kreuger! Because he can’t do anything to me unless I’m sleeping. So there! (laughs)
Jules: Ah! You beat my system!
Jeremy: Well, yeah I’m Ben!
Jules: If you had to be the sidekick to any superhero who would it be, and you can’t choose Ant-Man.
Jeremy: Oh I like this one! Alright, if I had to pick to be the sidekick to any superhero it would be Black Panther. I just love Black Panther, he is awesome! I am definitely going to see it when it comes out!
IT will arrive on Digital HD and Amazon Video on November 21, 2017. The DVD release is slated for some time in January 2018.