The Stars of ‘It: Chapter Two’ Pick Their Favorite Stephen King Books (Besides ‘It’)

It was the mother of all Stephen King books. Over 1000 pages long, they couldn’t tell the whole story in one movie. That’s why they made It: Chapter Two. Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean and James McAvoy play the kids from It: Chapter One all grown up. They were all Stephen King fans before they got the roles.

It: Chapter Two
(L-r) BILL HADER as Richie Tozier, JESSICA CHASTAIN as Beverly Marsh, JAMES MCAVOY as Bill Denbrough, JAMES RANSONE as Eddie Kaspbrak, ISAIAH MUSTAFA as Mike Hanlon, and JAY RYAN as Ben Hascomb in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “IT CHAPTER TWO” | Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

The stars of It: Chapter Two, except for McAvoy, met with reporters in a recreation of the town of Derry, where the book and films are set. Here’s what other Stephen King books the cast of It: Chapter Two read. We’ll have more on It: Chapter Two with them at Showbiz Cheat Sheet. It: Chapter Two opens Friday, September 6.

Jessica Chastain – ‘Misery’

Jessica Chastain has something in common with a character in one of Stephen King’s greatest books. 

Jessica Chastain
Actress Jessica Chastain attends Warner Bros. Pictures “The Big Picture” exclusive presentation during CinemaCon | Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage

“I think it was one of the first books that I read that wasn’t assigned to me,” Chastain said. “Not It, it was Pet Sematary and then I went from there to The Shining, to Misery. I loved that her name was Misery Chastain. Like, yes! So yeah, I was a Stephen King fan.”

Bill Hader – ‘Salem’s Lot’

Bill Hader also got into Stephen King as a side project outside of school.

“I had a similar experience with a book,” Hader said. “My grandfather took me to a bookstore and I had to get Red Badge of Courage for school. I was kind of bummed out about it and then he said, ‘You can go get another book if you want.’ So I went to the Young Adult section and he went, ‘No, no, no, you can go to the fiction section. You’re 12. You can handle it.’”

Bill Hader
Bill Hader speaks onstage at CinemaCon 2019 Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You to “The Big Picture during CinemaCon| Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for CinemaCon

Crossing the boundary into the Fiction shelves, Hader discovered a Stephen King classic waiting for him.

“The fiction section, you know, if you’re a book nerd, that’s where all the sex is,” Hader joked. “I was worried I was accidentally going to pick up Fear of Flying but I picked up Salem’s Lot and I read it in a weekend. It was also that first experience of reading an adult book that was 400 something pages and you finished it. You felt this massive accomplishment.”

Bill Hader and Finn Wolfhard
(L-R) Bill Hader and Finn Wolfhard speak onstage at CinemaCon 2019 Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You to “The Big Picture during CinemaCon| Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for CinemaCon

However, King’s nonfiction book, On Writing, may have had the greatest impact on Hader.

“That might be his best book,” Hader said. “I’ve read that multiple times. It’s so good and I’ve listened to it too. He reads it.”

Isaiah Mustafa – 14 Stephen King Books 

Isaiah Mustafa read It twice and listened to it on Audible for months. Then he delved into Stephen King’s other books to get a greater sense of how he tells stories, so Mustafa can’t pick just one. 

Isaiah Mustafa and Chosen Jacobs
(L-R) Isaiah Mustafa and Chosen Jacobs speak onstage at CinemaCon 2019 Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You to “The Big Picture| Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for CinemaCon

“I read like 14 of them while we were shooting,” Mustafa said. “Under the Dome I think is my favorite. I really enjoyed Doctor Sleep. Cell was pretty good. The Long Walk was very good. Insomnia, Tommyknockers, The Stand. I got through ‘em good. I was on a tear, man. I was just flying through these books. I couldn’t stop. I was waking up and then going to bed, every second I had I was really just reading these books.” 

Jay Ryan – ‘Misery’ 

Misery was one of Stephen King’s most autobiographical books. An author gets rescued from an automobile accident by his biggest fan, who holds him prisoner until he writes a new novel to her liking. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for playing the role in the film.

JAY RYAN at New Line Cinema’s 3rd annual ScareDiego presenting IT CHAPTER TWO at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 | Eric Charbonneau/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Misery is one of my absolute favorites,” Ryan said. “That whole idea of celebrity and the lengths that people will go to feeling like they know someone from afar. There was always novels of It on family shelves and libraries around when I was growing up, so those different images of the book, of the clown was always very haunting as a kid.” 

Ryan became a fan of On Writing too. 

“Recently I read Stephen King’s On Writing which is kind of a personal book as well as tips on how he creates his worlds and a look into his imagination,” Ryan said. “I attempted to read It when I was younger and I think it was just a little too scary for me and too many pages at the time. I was engrossed in the audiobook when I took this role on, all 40 hours of it. That’s quite an amazing immersive experience to be able to listen if you’re a lazy reader like myself.” 

James Ransome – ‘The Stand’

While also a fan of On Writing, James Ransone picks another 1000+ page epic among Stephen King’s classics.

AMES RANSONE at New Line Cinema’s 3rd annual ScareDiego presenting IT CHAPTER TWO at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 | Eric Charbonneau/Warner Bros. Entertainment

On Writing is by far his best book,” Ransone said. “I’m probably the most lazy. Mine was informed back and forth between the miniseries and The Shining. The only book that I read and feel like where I started and I didn’t have any previous knowledge of is The Stand. That scared me I think more than It because it felt more plausible somehow. That was mine.”

Andy Bean – ‘The Stand’

Andy Bean had the same childhood experience pulling a book off the shelf, at home rather than in the bookstore.

“We actually have that in common,” Bean said. “I picked up my dad’s paperback of The Stand. It was on his night table. I read that and scared myself sh*tless but actually, I was introduced to Stephen King from the miniseries. It was like a bootleg, brick VHS thing. We went over to somebody’s house. I have no idea what I was doing and getting myself into it just traumatized for an entire month, nightmares.”