It looks like Stephen King’s film adaptation of IT is ready to dominate the box offices for a second weekend, and cross the $200 million mark. Pennywise will be able to terrorize yet another generation of people afraid of clowns. This version of the clown is played by actor Bill Skarsgard, who has recently commented on what it took to bring his his character to life on the big screen.
In most cases you would think than an actor would wait to see the final version of the character before putting together their performance, especially one like Pennywise, but that wasn’t the case with Skarsgard since Pennywise’s character hadn’t been finalized when he landed the role:
“‘I sort of started inside out, I guess,’ Skarsgard told IGN during a recent phone interview. ‘Even after the auditioning process, the character was still very abstract to me. I came up with ideas of how the character could be and who he could be and how he could work and how he could talk and how he could move around, but I didn’t really have a sense of what he looked like until way further on in the process. Because the makeup wasn’t done, the ideas for the prosthetics weren’t done.'”
Skarsgard did a lot of research of the source material by reading King’s book. Soon after when the look was finally completed, he says he had a “complicated” reaction because of how “abstract” it was. He said, “Once I got the makeup on, I sort of had to get used to it, and see how my face moved and how my expressions, what they looked like.”
“It was a very unique experience, how abstract the whole process was, because there were so many external variables,” he explained. “How the costume felt, and how the costume looked, and that would change his movement to a degree. It was fun. You know, I really enjoyed the whole process of it.”
Once the initial shock of the costume wore off Skarsgard and the director of the film Andy Muschietti worked together to get all of the characters facial expressions and movements down:
“We had our own language where he could just shout out an expression that I knew exactly what he meant. You know, like, gooey face, or, you know, lower your chin, or whatever it could be. Or, multiverse look, or whatever. We had kind of our own language to figure out what worked best and what worked good for when.”
Then to bring it all together Skarsgard worked on finding the right voice and laugh for Pennywise. He started by choosing a voice with “a crackly unpredictability and sort of a creepy aggression”. Skarsgard went on to comment about the laugh, which he wanted to sound like someone who was either hysterically laughing or crying. “I wanted a laugh that doesn’t necessarily sound like a laugh. It’s almost like a panic attack as much as it is a laugh. And I found it really, really unsettling myself.”
Role’s like Pennywise the Dancing Clown don’t come around often, so it must have been quite the experience for Skarsgard to turn himself into the killer clown. Have you seen the film yet? What are your thoughts on Skarsgard’s performance? Chime in below!
IT is in theaters everywhere.
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