IT director Andy Muschetti explains why his Pennywise has a new look. While the advance buzz going into Muschetti’s R-rated, theatrical re-adaptation of Stephen King’s gargantuan novel has been mostly positive, one aspect that has drawn criticism among fans is just how different the new Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård) looks. This is no real surprise, as Pennywise 2017 looks almost completely different to the 1990 Tim Curry version that has since become an iconic horror movie monster.
While there are also many people who really dig the look of Skarsgård’s evil dancing clown, those who’ve grown accustomed to Curry’s version have lamented changes like the new Pennywise arguably not looking as physically imposing as his predecessor, not wearing as colorful and eye-catching of an ensemble, having big buck teeth, and looking too outwardly malevolent to be able to lure in victims.
Whether one agrees with the above criticisms or not, Muschetti recently offered an explanation to Collider about why his film’s Pennywise looks the way he does. Muschetti’s full quote on the matter is below, but basically, the director doesn’t really find Curry’s Bozo the Clown-esque look to be aesthetically appealing.
“Well, the fact that this entity has been around for thousands of years… I’m more drawn— I never— aesthetically, I don’t dig the 20th century clown. I think it looks cheap, and it’s too related to social events and stuff and circus and stuff, which circus is fine, but I’m more aesthetically attracted to the old time, like the 19th century clown. And given that this guy has been around for centuries, I wondered myself why, why not, having an upgrade that was 1800s.”
As much as some fans tend to be skeptical of Skarsgård’s appearance as the character, one point in Muschetti’s favor with some is that the descriptions offered of Pennywise in King’s book arguably sound much more like the monster’s look in this new film than the one he sported on TV back in 1990. This is in line with the general feeling held by many lovers of the book, that as good as the miniseries was, it’s time for an adaptation that is much more faithful to King’s prose.
One wonders if another factor that may have played a role in how different Skarsgård’s Pennywise ended up looking is just how beloved Curry’s version is. Those who really love Curry in the role aren’t ever likely to be convinced that he’s not the best to play the part, just as many Anthony Hopkins fans refused to accept the assertions by some fans of NBC’s Hannibal that Mads Mikkelsen was the better Hannibal Lecter. Curry’s shadow looms large, and preserving the classic Pennywise look would only invite further comparisons and scrutinizing of who wore it better.
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