While promoting It, Bill Skarsgard has faced repeated questions seeking to draw comparisons between his performance in the film and other onscreen turns that have gone before – and this need, on the part of the press, to build in a frame of reference has apparently begun to include The Joker. It’s a comparison that is, in some ways, understandable – The Joker is The Clown Prince Of Crime, after all. But, Bill Skarsgard is not so sure that such a comparison really works – as he explained to People Magazine.
“I think the biggest difference between Pennywise and the Joker character — or at least Heath Ledger’s interpretation — is that he’s far more based in reality. [The Joker] is sort of this social anarchist, crazy person, and I don’t think Pennywise is the same in that way. He’s not even human, he’s just pure evil.”
And even though The Joker of 2008’s The Dark Knight is, by nature, an anarchist, it seems that his version of villainy is still actually quite controlled when compared to Skarsgard’s Pennywise.
“Where I went with it was like, ‘What’s the most horrible thing that could happen here?’ And then I’d do that. You need to access parts of yourself where you’re thinking about what’s the most disturbing or horrifying [thing to do], and then you have to commit to that.”
“It was very strange [after production ended], it was almost like a really slow exorcism to completely let go of him.”
This push to constantly compare the performance delivered by Bill Skarsgard in It to past turns by other actors – most significantly Tim Curry’s Pennywise of 1990, and Heath Ledger’s Joker of 2008 – is a reflection of the way in which the actor has seemingly burst onto the scene with a character interpretation that represents a stunning transformation. It is Skarsgard’s first high profile leading role on the big screen in a U.S. production, and it would appear that audiences and critics alike were not fully prepared for the strength of his work here.
As has previously been reported, Skarsgard and director Andy Muschietti have been striving to ensure the Pennywise of this version of It is quite different from that which appeared in the 1990 television miniseries – making this new version entirely its own entity. The fact is that Skarsgard’s Pennywise simply does not compare to any other character, or previous version of this demonic clown – and we have a limited amount of time to reconcile ourselves with that, before the actor develops his interpretation even further, in the next instalment.
“I did have so much fun with the character, and I’m really looking forward to getting back under that clown makeup for the sequel,” he said.
It is in theatres now, with a confirmed sequel – Chapter Two – expected to arrive in 2019.