'It: Chapter 2' Screenwriter Says Richie's Love for Eddie "Defined Him"
Readers of Stephen King’s It have long suspected that the bespectacled Richie Tozer, a member of the Losers Club who confronts the demon clown Pennywise, harbors romantic feelings for fellow Loser, Eddie Kasprak. But while that affection is only subtext in King’s novel, It and It: Chapter Two screenwriter Gary Dauberman says “the nature of film” means that story could become the love story that “defines” Richie.
“Yeah, there’s nods to it, but there wasn’t a huge conversation about this in any way creatively,” Dauberman tells Inverse. “I think just by the nature of being on the screen, from texts to the pictures, I think makes it inherently more prevalent.”
Minor spoilers for It: Chapter Two ahead.
It: Chapter Two picks up more than two decades after the events of 2017’s It. The Losers Club — a group of kids from Derry, Maine who survive an ordeal with the shapeshifting demon Pennywise — reunite as adults when Pennywise resurfaces in their small Northeastern town.
Richie, portrayed by SNL alum Bill Hader as an adult, is played by Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) in adolescent flashbacks. In both youth and adulthood, Richie mercilessly teases Eddie, but a few telling moments in Chapter Two confirm that Richie teased Eddie out of his own insecurities about a legitimate affection for him.
“That love story has defined him,” Dauberman says. “And I think that, the way it’s crafted in the movie, the way [director] Andy [Muschietti] and Bill, just handled it really beautifully. I love those little nods.”
Readers of It more or less agree that Richie had feelings for Eddie, even though Stephen King didn’t actually pair them together. A number of King fans online adhere to “Reddie” (Richie + Eddie) as a “ship,” or a romantic pairing between fictional characters. The ending of It: Chapter Two nods to Reddie explicitly, with Hader’s Richie etching “R+E” on a bridge.
King’s It, a 1,000-plus page tome that turns growing up into an ancient monstrosity, is brimming with sexuality as a point of anxiety for many of its characters. Beverly, the lone girl of the group, is the object of affection for at least two of the Losers. As an adult, Eddie marries a woman who bears a strong resemblance to his mother. And in It: Chapter Two, Richie is accused of coming onto local bully Henry Bowers’ cousin when he offers to pay for another round of Street Fighter.
In the movie, Pennywise taunts Richie by challenging him to a round of Street Fighter and chanting, “I know your secret,” another clear reference to the character’s sexuality. As Dauberman points out, it’s also a reminder of It: Chapter Two’s central message: You can’t run from your past forever.
“I think the book, the movie, and I think a lot of King’s work, speaks to the power of childhood,” he says. “The power of youth, in beliefs and the strengths of bonds that we form when we’re kids and the relationships we have, the good ones and the bad ones, and how much they can influence our years ahead.”
It: Chapter Two is in theaters now.