IT director Andy Muschietti reveals why original Pennywise actor Will Poulter dropped out. After a summer of mostly poor box office performance, IT looks to be Hollywood’s big shining hope for a better fall, with early projections suggesting the film will set multiple opening weekend records. Of course, the film fans are about to get was not always what was planned. True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga was attached to the project as director for several years, only to depart over creative differences in 2015.
Not long before he left, Fukunaga had cast now 24-year-old British actor Will Poulter as Pennywise the Clown, who was then best known for his work in the Jason Sudeikis/Jennifer Aniston comedy We’re the Millers, and dystopian sci-fi adaptation The Maze Runner. After Fukunaga’s exit, there was some question for awhile as to whether Poulter would remain in the role, although it was eventually confirmed that he wouldn’t.
Related: IT Clips: Do You Want a Balloon?
Up until now, though, it’s never quite been clear why Poulter left the project. Was it solidarity with the man who cast him? Did he simply not like the direction new director Muschietti decided to take IT? In a new interview with Deadline, Muschietti himself was asked about Poulter, and revealed that he had talked to Poulter about staying on, only to find out that the actor had lost his enthusiasm for the part. Here’s Muschietti’s full quote:
“I was very, very intrigued by the prospect of working with Will, I always thought that he would be an amazing Pennywise. We talked a little bit about it, the idea of making the movie even though that Cary wasn’t there. Will basically expressed a feeling that he had slowly disengaged from playing that character, that was so dark and terrifying. It was a personal decision I respected, but I was eager and willing to find my own Pennywise and that’s what we did.”
Muschetti would indeed find his Pennywise, in the form of 27-year-old Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård who was probably best known at the time for starring in Netflix’s Hemlock Grove, While many were initially skeptical of first Poulter and then Skarsgård’s casting in the role — after all, Tim Curry was an established name in his mid-40s when he got the part — things seemed to have worked out for the best, with every new clip of Pennywise being greeted with quite the positive response.
At this point, though, one wonders whether Poulter might regret dropping out of what looks to be a very welcome late-summer hit. That said, Poulter certainly isn’t suffering from a lack of work, appearing in Netflix’s War Machine back in May, alongside heavy hitters like Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, and Ben Kingsley. Additionally, Poulter recently played the lead villain in Kathryn Bigelow’s period crime drama Detroit, which was based on a harrowing true story.
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