In the summer of 1989, a group of bullied kids band together to destroy a shape-shifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children of Derry, their small Maine town.
Role: Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Director: Andy Muschietti
Written by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman, Stephen King (creator)
Produced by: Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Barbara Muschietti
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Running Time: 135 minutes
Country: United States
Edited By: Jason Ballantine
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cinematography: Chung-hoon Chung
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton, and Jackson Robert Scott
Quick Links: IMDb | Wikipedia
Bill Skarsgård did research into the “psycho universe” to find his own way to perform Pennywise. He got inspiration from The Shining (1980), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Around the time of the theatrical release of this film, in Lititz, Pennsylvania, there was a prank that involved a series of red balloons tied to sewer grates throughout the town mimicking one of the book covers of the “It” novel. The prank had frightened the citizens, including the Lititz police force.
Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie) is the youngest in the movie and stated that he wasn’t as scared of Pennywise as he thought he would be. He said he actually had a fun time doing his scenes, and that Bill Skarsgård was always joking around.
Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie) was the first one out of all the kids to work with Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise). During their scene, Grazer would cry and gag while Skarsgård was right in his face yelling and drooling. Skarsgård was genuinely concerned for Grazer and after the scene ended, asked him if he was okay. Grazer looked right at him and said “Love what you’re doing with the character!”
Shipped to cinemas under the code name “POUND FOOLISH” a literal opposite to Pennywise.
Grossed $123 million over its North American opening weekend, easily a record for a horror film and more than double that of previous record holder Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), and also the second largest R-rated opening ever, behind only Deadpool (2016). Box office analysts also estimate it would have earned 5-6% more if Hurricane Irma hadn’t closed a significant number of theaters in Florida.
The refrigerator scene was filmed involving Bill Skarsgård partially contorting his body and CGI. Attached to wires, Skarsgård was filmed lying at the bottom of the refrigerator on his back to which the wires would pull him out of the refrigerator and rotate his body as he steps out. His actual body was digitally removed and replaced with a digital body. Portions of the body were digitally built in order for limbs and body parts to be maneuvered in various and intricate ways. The unfolding was hand-animated. Skarsgård’s head ultimately remained intact in the shot. VFX supervisor Arnaud Brisebois states, “I actually suggested to my animation supervisor Yvon Jardel that he animate in reverse.” He mentions further, “Pennywise would step back into the fridge so that he can push himself inside. It gave a better choreography to enter and fold onto itself than to try and do it the other way.” Brisebois says that he knew this was going to become an iconic horror shot.
Bill Skarsgård wanted to make sure that his performance as Pennywise was convincing for audiences. He states, “In order for this movie to be as effective as the book and the series, I have to scare a whole generation. My take was that Pennywise functions very simply. Nothing much is going on in terms of what he’s thinking – he’s animalistic and instinctive.”
The teeth prosthetics that Bill Skarsgård wore as Pennywise made him drool profusely. Director Andy Muschietti liked this as that the drooling adds onto the ravenous nature of Pennywise.
Bill Skarsgård had auditioned in Hollywood for the role of Pennywise. This required him to wear clown makeup to the audition. He proclaims, “There was something kind of humiliating and absurd about the whole thing. I’m an actor auditioning in Hollywood, and I’m driving with clownface on. It’s kind of a metaphor for what the profession of acting feels like.”
When the film was released in Germany and on the heels of the bizarre controversy in Russia concerning the Ronald McDonald/Pennywise complaint, Burger King Deutschland took it upon themselves to tease their rival, McDonalds, by giving an impromptu message at the end of the film that reads, “The moral is: Never trust a clown” which is accompanied by the Burger King logo. The audience were left bewildered and amused. It was joked that the film became the longest Burger King ad ever.
Pennywise has only four minutes of dialogue in the entire film.
Pennywise’s costume in the film is much more faithful to the description in the novel, in comparison to the Tim Curry costume in the 1990 TV miniseries, including his orange hair, and the orange pom-poms going down his silver suit. The miniseries only included the orange pom-poms.
Bill Skarsgård actually was able to smile in such a weird way that it really intrigued the director and now it is Pennywise’s iconic smile.
While on his way to the audition and wearing clown makeup, Bill Skarsgård, at the suggestion of director Andy Muschietti, tried out different types of maniacal laughs. He ended up getting perplexed stares from creeped out pedestrians. He says, “Andy [Muschietti] had also asked to explore clown laughter, so I’m sitting in the car and I feel ridiculous, but I thought I might as well absorb it and use it. So I just started to laugh like crazy in the car, as I’m just bearing down on pedestrians.”
Director Andy Muschietti kept Bill Skarsgård separate from the child actors up until they had to shoot scenes together. On the day of their first scenes together, the production staff warned the kids about how scary Skarsgård could be while in character. The kids brushed this off, claiming that they knew he was just an actor in a costume and that they were professionals and would be fine. However, when the time came for Skarsgård to be Pennywise for the scene, the kids were genuinely terrified.
Although Bill Skarsgård was on set for the majority of production, he didn’t actually begin filming his scenes until more than half of shooting was complete. The time before he actually started filming was spent working with Andy Muschietti and the producers in order to perfect his portrayal of Pennywise, as Skarsgård stated that he felt an immense amount of pressure to play the role perfectly due to Tim Curry’s well-regarded performance in It (1990).
Bill Skarsgård had admitted that he was so into his performance as Pennywise that he would have constant nightmares during and after production.
During an interview while promoting the film, Bill Skarsgård spoke about a humorous incident while filming a scene where Pennywise was terrorizing Eddie. Skarsgård noticed how his performance was upsetting Jack Dylan Grazer and, when the scene ended, asked if he was okay. Grazer immediately broke character and began complimenting Skarsgård and his performance. Skarsgård was left confused and impressed at Grazer’s attitude, calling the child actors “little professionals.”
Though CGI was used in some scenes, Bill Skarsgård was actually able to move his eyes in different directions in some scenes at the behest of Andy Muschietti. At first, it was uncertain if he was able to achieve this effect on his own, yet Skarsgård assures, “I can do that.” The purpose of this was to add to an already unsettling and disturbing look to Pennywise.
Hugo Weaving and Bill Skarsgård were the two finalists for the role of Pennywise after Will Poulter left the project. Skarsgård eventually got the role, reportedly due to his ability to play a more fun and child-like Pennywise, in addition to a creepy Pennywise, while Weaving reportedly fell short in playfulness and could only play creepy.
Bill Skarsgård has described Pennywise as being “Such an extreme character. Inhumane.” He added, “It’s beyond even a sociopath, because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings that It creates. It truly enjoys taking the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt.” Skarsgård elaborated on his connection to the children, saying, “There’s a childishness to the character, because he’s so closely linked to the kids. The clown is a manifestation of the children’s imaginations, so there’s something child-like about that.”
This isn’t real enough for you, Billy? I’m not real enough for you? It was real enough for Georgie!
NO! I’ll take him! I’ll take all of you! I’ll feast on your flesh as I feed on your fear… Or… you’ll just leave us be… I will take him. Only him, and I will have my long rest and you will all live to grow and thrive and lead *happy* lives, until old age takes you back to the weeds.
Beep Beep Richie!
Where you going, Eds? If you lived here you’d be home by now! Come join the clown, Eds. You’ll float down here. We all float down here. Yes, we do!
Tasty, tasty, beautiful fear.
What a nice boat. Do you want it back?