When the cast of Strangers Things Season 3 hit the red carpet, fans were shocked to see how much they'd grown. Tiny Noah Schnapp suddenly towered above his female co-stars, for instance, and Caleb McLaughlin had stubble. But Finn Wolfhard had the most dramatic transformation, looking like real a 20-something rock-and-roller. His maturity isn't just a factor for Stranger Things either. It turns out Finn Wolfhard will be de-aged for IT Chapter Two because the producers had to figure out a way to make him look like a real kid.
Growing up has always been the danger of working with kids in Hollywood. As cute as, say, Shirley Temple might have been, one cannot freeze the clock and have her stay an elementary-aged child forever. Not that Hollywood famously hasn't tried. Filmmakers put Judy Garland on a strict and dangerous diet while she was filming The Wizard Of Oz to appear younger. The laundry list of teenager stars who lost their jobs because they were whacked with the puberty stick too hard, or worse, too fast, is legendary.
Digital de-aging almost seems like a good answer, considering the alternatives. After all, it's not the kid's fault when they suddenly turn up on set looking like it's time to move into a college dorm.
Fans knew IT Chapter Two would be about the adult versions of the characters, with flashback sequences to their childhoods. One might have assumed said flashback scenes would have been filmed back during the making of IT Chapter One, to capture the kids at the right age. But filmmaking isn't always that organized. Instead, when it came time to film flashbacks where the kids had uncomfortably outgrown their original look, digital de-aging was used.
Speaking to Total Film Magazine, director Andy Muschietti admitted that some of the VFX budget was set aside for the inevitable de-aging some of the cast might need. According to Bloody Disgusting, Muschietti looked at it as the best option:
Well, it’s better to shoot it two years later than five years later. But in those two years, they grew up quite a bit.
Here's the trailer for IT Chapter One for comparison. Can you tell the difference?
Not everyone grew up, of course. One of the factors of puberty is that it hits every teenager at different ages and in different ways. Muschietti revealed who didn't need it:
Not all of them. Sophia looks exactly the same. Jaeden looks pretty much the same. Finn grew up quite a bit, and he’s a tall guy. But from the beginning, we knew that that would be part of the budget, the visual effects to address that. So we’re going to de-age the kids.
Is digital de-aging the new way Hollywood will preserve child actors going forward when the inevitable march of time comes for them? Well, when you put it that way, it sounds like the perfect plot for Muschietti's next horror film.
IT Chapter Two arrives in theaters on Sept. 6, 2019.