After winning over the YA crowd in We’re the Millers and The Maze Runner, Will Poulter will attempt to scare the pants off them as evil clown Pennywise in New Line’s two-part adaptation of the iconic Stephen King novel IT, Variety reports.
Cary Fukunaga, who helmed the first season of HBO’s True Detective, is in line to direct IT, which is expected to fill out its cast in the coming weeks ahead of a planned production start this summer. The pic will focus on a group of social outcasts who fight an evil force in their hometown during summer break, confronting many of their darkest fears in the process.
New Line and Fukunaga looked at a wide variety of actors for the role of Pennywise, an evil monster who lures children to their deaths while disguised as a clown. Older actors like Mark Rylance and Ben Medelsohn were also considered, but the studio ended up deciding to skew young in its casting of the monstrous entity.
Though Poulter is much better known for his comedic roles, sources say that the actor blew Fukunaga away when he auditioned, and that the director couldn’t imagine anyone else in the part once Poulter was out the door. Additionally, word on the street is that the young actor’s performance as a cutthroat robber in the upcoming Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu revenge drama The Revenant convinced insiders that he’s more than capable of breaking bad on the big screen.
Fukunaga’s adaptation is a remarkably ambitious one – and appropriately so, given that King’s novel clocked in at about 900 pages. Though a TV miniseries was mounted in 1991 (with Tim Curry as the clown), this big-budget swing will be a different animal altogether. Fukunaga has scripts ready for both halves of his two-film treatment. The first will focus on the protagonists as kids encountering Poulter’s Pennywise for the first time, and the second will skip forward to find the characters as adults, returning to vanquish the evil once and for all. By virtue of appearing in both films, Poulter is the star of the project.
Now that Pennywise is cast, Fukunaga will turn his attention to casting the rest of the lead roles ahead of rolling cameras on the first half this summer. Poulter will next be seen in The Revenant, which opens at Christmas – and if advance buzz is any indication, it will be that performance that convinces us he can play an evil monster, and heat up anticipation even further for It.