With horror film IT hitting theaters this Friday (at the time of writing this), actor Bill Skarsgard – who plays Pennywise – is breaking down the psychology behind the clown and how he “intellectualized” the famous monster from Stephen King’s horror novel.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who terrorizes a group of misfit kids dubbed the “Losers’ Club” in King’s story, was made famous by Tim Curry’s performance in the 1990s IT TV miniseries – which bought the mysterious shapeshifter to life and horrified viewers with his iconic laugh and penchant for pulling kids into storm drains. Now, Skarsgard is stepping into the clown’s shoes for director Andy Muschietti’s film adaptation of the novel and audiences should expect to see a whole new version of Pennywise. Skarsgard has revealed that, in fact, he thinks it’s important to make the character his own and not just rehash Curry’s performance.
In an interview with HorrorFreak News, Skarsgard talks more about how he and Muschietti reinvented the Pennywise character together and how Skarsgard used King’s 1,200 page novel to intellectualize the character and learns the ins and outs of Pennywise – like how he works, why he’s terrorizing the kids and if he even exists at all, apart from the kid’s imaginations. Here is what he said:
“I’ve gotten that question a lot during interviews. I have a slight resistance in telling it. It’s a weird thing to reveal…it’s ours. You can read the novel. You can watch the film, and you can have your own interpretation of what he is. But we have a very – such a huge important thing for me doing the film was not only having Andy but having Andy’s trust in me – and our collaboration in doing the character. We were never in disagreement about the psychology behind him. There is a chapter that we would go back to, that’s where Stephen King kind of writes, sort of subjectively through “It”. And you can go and look at it in the novel. There’s a lot of clues to sort of the mind behind him…for me going into it.”
“After I booked the job – we had like 10 days or something before we started shooting. “I need to go through this 1200 page book” But I also had that whole stage before I tried the make-up on – it was just me intellectualizing the character. What was the psychology behind him? How does he function, how does he work? Why does he work? Why is he even around? Does he even exist, apart from in the imagination of kids? This whole thing – almost existential things that is very true in the book if you read it. And then once I get the make-up on, now I need to embody this thing and this is the third and final stage of the process.”
Skarsgard’s comments offer more positive news when it comes to this adaptation. While Curry’s performance as Pennywise was memorable and praiseworthy, it was sometimes difficult to grasp what the clown’s true motivations were in the IT miniseries. We knew that the clown had been terrorizing the town for decades, yet we weren’t given any reasons for why Pennywise does what he does, nor shown many layers to the villain. Skarsgard’s take on a more “intellectualized” Pennywise should add some psychological depth to the character that will only make “IT” even more terrifying.
Between the early positive critical reception for IT and box office estimates predicting a sizable opening weekend for the film, it sounds like Skarsgard’s portrayal and reinvention of Pennywise is going to be a fresh take on the infamous clown, making up for the letdowns from the 1990s IT miniseries – like the laughable monster that Pennywise eventually turns into (and how the TV miniseries struggled to cut out the original IT novel’s adult violence and language). We’ve likewise been hearing from early reviews that the IT movie doesn’t clown around, when it comes to delivering some serious scares.
Source: HorrorFreak News
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