With Stephen King’s It becoming one of his best-loved pieces of fiction, the psychotic world of Pennywise the Dancing Clown was brought to life in the 1990 TV movie of the same name. Tim Curry put on a pair of baggy pants and some floppy shoes to play the creepy clown and cemented himself as a piece of horror history.
However, some 27 years after the first outing, it was back to Derry for another batch of actors to face that evil entity in Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter One. Promising to be even scarier than the original, It was a runaway success from the horror-packed year of 2017 and was all anyone was talking about. From Bill Skarsgård’s mesmerizing performance to the craze of clowns lurking on street corners, It still continues to grab headlines.
Now, as Muschietti and Warner Bros. prepare to take over the realms of horror with the concluding part for It: Chapter Two in 2019, it is time to look back and dig a little deeper under the surface of Pennywise’s sewer lair and float on by with some facts you won’t know about the movie.
Here are 16 Secrets Behind The Making Of It.
16 Pennywise's freaky eyes are real
While Skarsgård’s performance as that dancing demon was creepy enough, the actor brought far more than a bit of method acting to the role. Muschietti wanted to make Pennywise even more sinister by having the clown’s eyes move in different directions. Reportedly in post-production, the director told Bill this, but the actor told him there was no need.
Returning to the set, Skarsgård unveiled his parlor trick and moved both eyes independently of each other to creep Muschietti and the rest of the crew out. Can Tim Curry do that? The trick is most evident in the scene where Pennywise goes limp in the sewer and his eyes look away.
Going hand in hand with Skarsgård’s unsettling clown smile that helped him win the part, it shows exactly why he landed the role as Pennywise.
15 The Deleted Flashback To The 1600s
The movie briefly touched on Pennywise’s long history tormenting the souls of Derry, however, Muschietti wanted to delve a little deeper into the past. It was already a sprawling epic in an attempt to adapt King’s even bigger novel.
Ultimately, Part 1 would have to cut some of the book and Muschietti’s original ideas to pack in the nightmares facing the Losers Club, and sadly, a trip back to the 1600s was just part that remains on the cutting room floor.
The scene would’ve featured Bill without his clown makeup and in pre-Pennywise form.
The idea is that the “It” entity had been dormant for thousands of years before finding Pennywise as its host. Skarsgård said it was extremely creepy and seemed disheartened that it didn’t make it into the movie, however, he did tease that the scene could make its way into Part 2.
14 One Town's Creepy Marketing Campaign
It was already known for Curry’s iconic shot of Pennywise holding his red balloon. However, for the 2017 update, Muschietti was keen to use this imagery to an even more haunting effect. It is safe to say that a lot of America was gripped by clown fever in the run-up to It, but Lititz, Pennsylvania took it one step further.
The small town was gripped by fear when red balloons started appearing, tied to grates on the street.
Thought to be the work of a local prankster rather than a real-life Stephen King mystery come to life, the local police department was still left spooked. Taking to Facebook, the Lititz PD commended the assailant for creativity but asked them not to do it again. Though it gained national coverage as the prank continued, the officers thankfully still managed to see the funny side of it.
13 The Butcher's Shop Scene
Chosen Jacobs’ Mike may not have had as much to do as some of the rest of the cast, but he still got to take part in some of the most harrowing scenes. Interestingly, when Pennywise took the form of Mike’s parents reaching out from the back of the butcher’s shop, the scene was extended slightly.
The movie showed Pennywise swinging on a meat hook, but the longer version had the door staying open and Skarsgård’s creature letting out a horrible screeching noise. It also didn’t make it onto the bonus features of the It, but you can see it being filmed in some behind-the-scenes footage.
Mike was used as a secondary character in the movie, but at least Muschietti reportedly has much bigger plans for Mike in the sequel.
12 Jack Dylan Grazer freaked Bill Skarsgård out
If anyone thought Curry’s 1990 Pennywise wasn’t scary enough, Skarsgård wasn’t going to let that one stand. An altogether more petrifying version, the new Pennywise seemed to take a particular shining to Jack Dylan Grazer’s Eddie Kaspbrak. As well as dealing with that creepy porch hobo from the Neibolt house, Eddie took a tumble and breaks his arm at the hands of Pennywise.
Grazer was particularly hands-on and wrote a lot of the jokes for Finn Wolfhard (Richie), but his talents did not end there.
Being an actor in a horror film is no easy gig, but acting scared instead of actually getting scared is a whole different ballgame. Grazer would reportedly wretch and gag in his scenes with Skarsgård’s clown, leading the main actor to question whether he was okay. Grazer turned around and said, “Love what you're doing with the character!"
11 The Dark Truth Behind The Number 27
If you believe in that kind of thing, the number 27 has a dark history with It.
Skarsgård was 27 at the time of release and Muschietti premiered Chapter One 27 years after the TV movie. 27 is also the number of years between Pennywise’s attacks in Derry, but the number has a tragic tie to real-life as well.
Actor Jonathan Brandis played in the original young Bill Denbrough and passed away early. As well as playing Bill, Brandis portrayed Bastian Bux in The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter and the lead in Steven Spielberg's seaQuest DSV. Sadly, his elevation to teen idol status wasn’t to last.
At the age of 27, Brandis took his own life in his LA apartment without a note. The star was reportedly drinking heavily and had become depressed over his waning career.
10 Pennywise's Drooling Teeth
Skarsgård's unnerving eye trick wasn't the only thing that set Pennywise apart from your standard creepy clown. He had a pair of razor-sharp teeth knocking around in his head. While Pennywise was scary enough to start, later in the movie saw him attack in a more demonic form with close-up shots that were just another part of Skarsgård’s lengthy makeup routine.
Muschietti gave the actor a pair of prosthetic teeth to complete the look, but they reportedly made him drool profusely. Instead of finding some new (non-drooling) teeth, the director said he loved the look it gave Pennywise, adding to his ravenous hunger. With saliva pouring from his mouth, poor Skarsgård had to carry on the rest of filming.
9 The Director Hid Pennywise From The Cast
From frolicking in quarries to dealing with Henry Bowers and his chums, the Losers Club had a pretty standard childhood summer until “It” turned up. Given the movie’s title, it is clear that Skarsgård’s dancing clown would be the lead. However, while Pennywise was a massive presence throughout the final cut, Bill was actually one of the last to turn up on set.
To keep the horror alive, Muschietti effectively hid Pennywise from the cast until they had to film their scenes with him. The crew had warned that Skarsgård was very much in character as Pennywise, but the young actors brushed off how terrifying the final look would be. It is safe to say that most of them were left quaking in their boots when they first came face-to-face with Skarsgård in full costume.
8 Skarsgård Had Nightmares After Filming
Skarsgård is up there with some of the great method actors of his time. Playing evil clown may not be up everyone’s street, but it landed him critical acclaim. The star had immersed himself so much in playing Pennywise, he would have constant nightmares after filming wrapped. The clown would apparently visit him every night in Pennywise form, with Skarsgård claiming that it was almost a separate entity from him.
His nightmares became so frequent that Pennywise began visiting him every night.
However, Bill had researched the “Psycho Universe” by watching performances like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, so it is no wonder he struggled sleeping. Luckily, he saw it as therapeutic and claimed this was a way of “letting go” of the character.
7 IT got a little too real
One of It’s most controversial changes from book to movie was to give Jeremy Ray Taylor’s Ben the de facto role of library nerd - a trait that was originally supposed to go to Mike Hanlon. Mike became the “forgotten” Loser while Ben and his macabre book of Derry history gave about as much backstory on Pennywise as Muschietti was willing to give us in Chapter One.
As Ben lurked among the books of the library while the others went out to play, he flicked through the history pages to see Pennywise popping up at some horrible moments in history. One photograph depicted victims of the ironworks explosion with a sprinkling of Easter egg baskets around the husks. While the Easter eggs were an obvious addition for the movie, the bodies featured were an actual photo of deceased soldiers from Gettysburg.
6 The Clown Room Contained Original Pennywise
While Skarsgård undoubtedly brought his own unique take on Pennywise to Muschietti version, it is hard to escape the legacy that Tim Curry brought to the character. As the race to find a “new” Pennywise began for the reimagining, there were even talks that Curry could reprise his iconic role. However, even with Skarsgård dancing his way into a new era of the horror, Muschietti couldn’t resist a nod to days gone by.
One of It’s most horrifying scenes was the “Clown Room.”
Those with coulrophobia were forced to endure a whole circus full of those red-haired horrors as poor Richie Tozier faced his own living nightmare. As well including a brilliant Curry reference with a rehash of “Beep beep, Richie,” did you spot that one of the dolls was dressed exactly as Tim’s original Pennywise? Out with the old and in with the new!
5 Deleted attack scene with the bullies
It may not have skimped on the gore, but the movie did avoid adapting some of King’s more adult scenes. Muschietti decided to remove the controversial "connection" scene from the novel, as well as a violent assault on Henry Bowers.
In the novel, Beverly goes to a junkyard to find Bowers and his friends with their pants down. As some of the bullies take off, local weirdo Patrick Hockstetter is left alone with Henry. Patrick proceeds to assault Henry.
While both Hockstetter and Bowers are the human villains of the movie, neither boy is anything compared to their book counterparts. In fact, Hockstetter from King’s original version is one of the most unhinged characters the author has ever created.
4 Burger King's anti-McDonald's ad
Burger King and McDonald’s may offer completely different things to different customers, but it didn’t stop BK managing to get one over on those golden arches. With Pennywise’s eerily similar appearance to Ronald McDonald, Burger King clearly saw It as one big anti-McDonald’s advert.
Burger King's marketing team managed to grab some screen time ahead of Muschietti’s movie.
Setting up at a cinema in Germany, Burger King shone two spotlights just before the movie’s credits. One read, “The moral is: never trust a clown,” while the other simply said “Burger King.” Cue fits of laughter right after one of the scariest films of the decade.
After the stunt, it became a running joke that It is actually the longest ever Burger King commercial - sorry Ronald, better luck next time!
3 The Original Actors Can't Return
It is clear that Muschietti took plenty of influences from both King’s text and the 1990 TV movie that was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace. The TV version was split into two halves, with the child actors not returning for the second half. In contrast, the 2017 cast of kids are confirmed to return for Chapter Two and have all put across their own choices for who they would like to play their adult selves.
With names like Jessica Chastain and Chris Pratt being thrown around, one interesting idea is that the 1990 cast return to play themselves in adult form. It would a neat way to tie together both iterations of It, while also expanding the Stephen King Multiverse, but it can’t happen. As previously said, the passing of Jonathan Brandis means adult Bill would’ve had to be recast any way.
2 Hugo Weaving Was Too Creepy For Pennywise
It is a known fact that It had been in development for a long time. When Cary Fukunaga was attached to direct, he even got as far as casting Will Poulter as the titular horror. However, when Fukunaga left, Poulter soon followed and left the search wide open again. In the Muschietti days, it became a two-horse race between Skarsgård and Hugo Weaving.
Known for his parts like Mr. Smith, Elrond, and Red Skull, you only have to look at Weaving to imagine him popping on a red nose.
However, it is easy to forget that Pennywise is just as playful as he is terrifying. Pennywise taunts his victims before dispatching them in sadistic ways, but Weaving apparently couldn’t get the fun factor right. A little too serious to play the colorful clown, Weaving eventually lost out to Skarsgård and his sinister smile.
1 There Were Concerns Skarsgård Wouldn't Return
There was a time that the kid Losers might not be the only ones facing a recast for Chapter Two. In fact, the whole premise of a sequel to the 2017 movie depended on how the first part performed. Luckily, It became a box office blockbuster and the second part was almost instantly greenlit. However, with concerns for Skarsgård’s wellbeing after filming and his aforementioned nightmares, fans worried what would happen if he didn’t return.
Skarsgård saw the benefit of signing on for the sequel and will star alongside the child actors again for another trip to the circus. Thankfully ,Skarsgård is willing to go through the pain of prosthetics and bad dreams all over again, and has even said he would like to go deeper into the twisted psyche of Pennywise this time around.
Which is your favorite dark secret about Andy Muschietti's It? Sound off in the comments!