It Star Bill Skarsgard On Channeling The “Really, Really Unsettling” Pennywise

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Not since Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker has a cinematic trickster generated so much conversation, and it all stems from Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

Stephen King’s flesh-munching abomination has been haunting theaters ever since last Friday, pulling in a record amount of box office receipts in the process. It is currently at $198 million and counting, and all signs point to Andy Muschietti’s R-rated scarefest being remembered as one of 2017’s bona fide success stories.

But now that Pennywise is out in the open, spawning countless nightmares in the process, Hemlock Grove actor Bill Skarsgard has been reflecting on the creative process involved in bringing King’s shape-shifting demon to life. Not only that, but while appearing on Conan, the lead star recalled a childhood memory that helped inform Pennywise’s demented smile.

My older brother Gustav… he had this ability to point his lip in a very strange way. For some reason… I was maybe ten years old… I came up with this character, Yodigan. I would pull my t-shirt up over my head… and I would do this face, and chase my little brother.

All throughout production, Bill Skarsgard was intentionally left out of It‘s promotional campaign, and it turns out many of his interviews were actually embargoed until after the film’s release in order to maintain some semblance of intrigue. For Skarsgard, that meant he was left tackling a fairly abstract character, as the actor told IGN:

I sort of started inside out, I guess. 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.

When it comes to Pennywise’s laugh, in particular, Skarsgard wanted to toe the line between a normal cackle and an uncontrollable panic attack to emphasize the entity’s unhinged nature.

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. I think that something in there between of that hysteria, something really unsettling and awkward appears. And the key for the character for me was that he’s unpredictable and unsettling. That’s something that’s very off with him.

It Part 1 – The Losers Club is currently enjoying its time in the sun, and now that Pennywise has been banished to the sewers for a full 27 years, New Line and Andy Muschietti will begin plotting Chapter 2 for its release in 2019. The Losers Club have already named their dream cast, though whether the Powers That Be take heed of their suggestions is another question entirely.

Source: IGN

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