Tim Curry may have been the man to bring the terrifying entity that is Pennywise the Clown to life back in 1990 in a television adaptation, but an arguably scarier version is to come in “IT” this week, as Bill Skarsgard dons the make-up and gets into character as the child-murdering demon.
Based on Stephen King’s classic novel of the same name, It stars Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague and Logan Thompson.
“For that whole three-month period, I was married to Pennywise“, says Skarsgard. “So there was this fear into it. I felt that people were kind of nearly anxious to s**t all over whatever I was going to do here”.
Pennywise has two haunting phrases in the book which were picked up in the adaptation: “Don’t you want a balloon?” and “You’ll float down here, you’ll all float!”. Director Andy Muschietti, screenwriter Gary Dauberman and producer Seth Grahame-Smith say King’s work shaped the storytellers they are today, and his approval of their adaptation is critical if they’re to consider the film a success.
Before I even start, it needs to be said: I hate scary clowns. “Clearly, the first time we see Pennywise is an incredibly important scene and, speaking for myself, it’s something that stays with you”. Because we talked a lot about the unpredictable behavior of Pennywise as part of his dread and his impact as a monster.
To be sure, his most terrifying tales are spiked with the deliciously terrible knowledge that despite whatever beasts may lurk in the shadows, the main thing we need to fear is usually human nature. It’s not just the over the top scares that make him disturbingly memorable it’s the little touches, the fact that he has a fluctuating tone of voice, an ever shifting eye colour to possibly denote his mood and a stare that just pierces your soul. If the studio bumps up the budget even more and lets Muschietti go truly wild, we could be looking at a duology of films that are game-changers for the horror genre.
Of course, in terms of sheer shiver-inducing volume, it’s hard to argue against the significance of King, who has written so many stories you have probably forgotten some of them. I knew I was in good hands so I could really go for it, and he responded to what I was doing. I’m not dealing with this clown. I trust Andy and I trust Barbara.
I was just by myself trying to wrestle this demonic clown that I was going to portray.
The film only covers the first half of King’s 1,150 page story, when Pennywise attacks a group of children.
Skarsgard thinks he’s gotten his fears under control should he be able to reprise the role in a sequel. I think it’s a new take on the character and I hope people who were big fans of Tim Curry’s performance will appreciate this as something different and new. “Now things that used to be scary are laughed at in the movies”.
“There were no instructions”. One by one, It (a pronoun that gradually becomes a proper noun) appears to each of the Losers in a variety of guises, toying with them just long enough to scare them witless before reverting to its default form of Pennywise.
“He could be young, he could be old, he could be a girl, he could be a guy”.