As if clowns weren’t scary enough, Stephen King had to go and make one the killer of his masterpiece It.
Brought to life once by Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries adaptation, Pennywise the clown towers over terrified audiences in theaters this weekend.
Bill Skarsgard is about to give a lot of kids, and grown adults, nightmares as Pennywise in the film adaptation of It, but even he was afraid of taking on the role. Monsters and Critics was at the press junket for It in Los Angeles where Skarsgard and director Andy Muschietti spoke about bringing Pennywise to life.
“When I finally booked the job, I’m like holy s**t, I’m doing this now,” Skarsgard said. “So there was this fear into it. In Toronto leading up to production, I was like, ‘How am I going to pull this off?’
“This fear started creeping in of people having opinions and anticipations. They have expectations I’m not going to live up to. I felt that people were kind of almost anxious to s**t all over whatever I was going to do here.”
For his part, Muschietti was not aware of the fears plaguing Skarsgard.
“I didn’t know that you were afraid and I was like, oh, he knows what he’s doing,” Muschietti said. “I totally see why you feel that way. Because we talked a lot about the unpredictable behavior of Pennywise as part of his dread and his impact as a monster.
“We have here a guy that is as committed and fearless. He just took the concept of what is this monster and how we make him unpredictable.”
Once he had Muschietti’s support, Skarsgard could let go of his fears.
He said: “Then I reminded myself, Andy believes in what you’re doing here, and [producer] Barbara [Muschietti] as well.
“They’ve stressed how happy they are that you’re here and they believe in you. That was enough for me to go, ‘Okay, Bill, just go with it.’
“Because I knew I can’t have fear and I can’t pull anything back here. I trust Andy and I trust Barbara. I’m going to give them all I have and I can’t resist anything so just be fearless giving everything I have.
“The movie wouldn’t be able to be made, or I wouldn’t be able to make the character, any other way.”
The film only covers the first half of King’s 1,150 page story, when Pennywise attacks a group of children.
He comes back when they are adults and if the first film is successful, they plan to turn the second half of the story into another film.
Skarsgard thinks he’s gotten his fears under control should he be able to reprise the role in a sequel.
“Even for the sequel, it might be different because I’m so accustomed to the character now and the look of the character,” he said. “In the end, fear and being fearless is such a topical thing for the movie.
“There were no instructions. There’s not anything that describes why Pennywise would be either one way or another.
“He could be young, he could be old, he could be a girl, he could be a guy. There’s nothing that limits the character.”
The It movie is in theaters Friday, September 8.