Filmmaker Andy Muschietti of Mama fame is currently in production on his adaptation of the celebrated Stephen King novel, It. King’s source material follows a group of young outsiders (all of whom live in the small town of Derry, Maine) who become close friends, even as they are terrorized by an evil supernatural force that presents itself in the form of a horrifying clown known as Pennywise. The roster of actors playing Its‘ under-age protagonists includes Owen Teague (Bloodline), Jaeden Lieberher (Masters of Sex), Steven Williams (The Leftovers, Supernatural) and relative newcomer Sophia Lillis, among others.
The eponymous villain of It was famously brought to life during a 1990s TV mini-series adaptation by Tim Curry, whereas Hemlock Grove actor Bill Skarsgård is bringing Pennywise to life on the big screen in Muschetti’s film adaptation of King’s novel. Now, we have our first look at the latter in his costume and makeup as the more-than-a-little-bit-creepy clown, along with some of his thoughts about the process of bringing this particular scary Stephen King story to life on the big screen.
Skarsgård, while speaking to EW, described his version of Pennywise (pictured below) as follows:
“It’s such an extreme character. Inhumane. It’s beyond even a sociopath, because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings It creates.”
Skarsgård made it clear to EW that he has no intention of attempting to one-up or recapture what Curry did with the role of Pennywise in the ’90s TV adaptation of It, saying:
“Tim Curry’s performance was truly great, but it’s important for me to do something different because of that. I’ll never be able to make a Tim Curry performance as good as Tim Curry.”
Part of the difference between Skarsgård and Curry’s Pennywises will simply come down to their appearances since, as Skarsgård noted, his version of the monster appears to be someone who is closer in age (and temperament) to the youngsters that he terrorizes (despite being – without spoiling anything for those who haven’t read King’s book or seen the ’90s TV adaptation – something else altogether):
“There’s a childishness to the character, because he’s so closely linked to the kids. The clown is the manifestation of children’s imaginations, so there’s something child-like about that.”
Part of what made Curry’s version of Pennywise the stuff of nightmares for children of the ’90s was that he could be unabashedly funny one moment, only to turn on a dime and become utterly creepy one second later. By comparison, it sounds as though Skarsgård’s take on the character in the upcoming film version of It will bear a stronger resemblance to the spooky child trope that has long been a horror genre staple (with such memorable examples as The Omen, The Ring, Sinister, and so forth). Either way, it’s for the best that Skarsgård isn’t trying to beat Curry at his own game and is instead charting his own path here.
It opens in U.S. theaters on September 8th, 2017.