Pennywise was famously first brought to life by Tim Curry in the original It mini-series. If the filmmakers behind the new It movies were going to make their mark, they needed a Pennywise for the ages. Here’s how Bill Skarsgård rose to the challenge.
Skarsgård began developing his take on Pennywise well before he actually started shooting any scenes. He took plenty of inspiration from Stephen King’s original novel, which helped him understand the balance between Pennywise’s evil, cosmic origin and its more recognizable clown form. But he had very few visual cues to draw from as he first began to flesh out what made the creature tick. This created certain challenges in designing the character, particularly in terms of his voice, which in the film ranges from childlike to nasally and wavering to outright monstrous.
For Skarsgård, that voice and its many facets could not fully come into his head until he saw what Pennywise actually looked like.
He told Collider:
“It was really when we did the full make-up test and see what the character would actually look like … My first test with the prosthetics and makeup was where I saw what the character would actually look like with me in it. That’s something I needed to explore to [discover] what this thing would sound like.”
Watch the video for more about How Bill Skarsgard transformed into Pennywise!
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See evil, hear evil, speak evil | 0:14
Grin reaper | 1:09
Clowning around | 1:54
Run, Pennywise, run! | 2:49
Open wide! | 4:11