Coulrophobia is a very real and common thing, and it would be safe to assume that not many people with a fear of clowns would have been in a rush to check out the two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s It on the big screen, despite the movies earning a combined total of over $1.1 billion at the box office.
Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise may have turned the creature into an unlikely cultural icon, but the actor’s unsettling and frequently terrifying work across both chapters more than likely created a whole host of new coulrophobiacs unable to see clowns in the same light ever again, and it turns out that that also extends to the stars of the films themselves.
I Am Not Okay With This actress Sophia Lillis, who played the young Beverly Marsh in Andy Muschietti’s blockbuster duology, admitted that having worked so closely with Skarsgard on It, he may have permanently ruined clowns for her.
“Well, I can’t think about clowns and then not think about, you know, Pennywise, because that was a good section of my life. I mean, I was going into high school. Yeah, I don’t know if it ruined clowns for me. Maybe it did, I think that’s what happened. It kind of ruined clowns for me. And that’s why the scenes stood out to me, just everything your character is going through is ramped up and personified.”
If anything, that’s a testament to the actor’s performance, especially when Lillis would have gotten to know him personally and discovered that he’s actually a really nice guy when the cameras weren’t rolling, even if the majority of their scenes together saw him caked in makeup and actively trying to murder her on numerous occasions.
Of course, as one of the most infamous clowns in both literature and cinema, the 18 year-old is hardly in the minority when it comes to being scared of Pennywise, and The Devil All the Time director Antonio Campos recently revealed that Skarsgard even used Pennywise to terrify one of his co-stars on the hit Netflix crime thriller after the young actor’s mother accidentally revealed that the inter-dimensional clown was the only thing he was genuinely afraid of.