Bill Skarsgard compares playing Pennywise to being in a destructive relationship

You may have already heard that Bill Skarsgard’s performance as homicidal supernatural clown Pennywise in IT made some child extras cry hysterically, despite the fact that they presumably knew they were playing opposite a scary clown. Would you find it surprising to hear that Skarsgard’s transformation into Pennywise was so masterfully terrifying that he scared himself? He talked to US on the red carpet for IT (where his currently more famous brother, Alex, trolled the crap out of him as you can see below) and he actually gave some really good quotes about why we need horror more than ever and how he got into the role, which he first found intimidating.

[Bill Skarsgard] revealed how it felt to see himself as the iconic clown, saying, “It was an amazing, terrifying feeling of seeing the makeup go on for the first time.”

“Up until that point, I didn’t know what the character actually would look like. So every step of the way, I was looking at myself in the mirror, making faces to try to see what this character would eventually be,” he added…

Once he landed the role, the actor, 27, admitted that he felt a bit of self-doubt, and didn’t want to disappoint the film’s director Andrés Muschietti and producer Barbara Muschietti.

“I think the first step was there were people who had to be convinced that I could do the job. There was a long process of getting cast. Once I got the role, I was like, ‘I got the role!’ Then I was like, ‘Oh my God, I got the role. How am I going to do this? How am I going to live up these expectations?’” he confessed. “Andy and Barbara, the director and producer, trusted in me, and I really didn’t want to let them down. It was a mixed feeling, but ultimately, of course, I loved the whole thing.”

Skarsgard believes there’s still a need for horror films for people to escape the reality of what is happening in the world at the moment.

“I think the world seems to be a very scary place now. More so than ever. Watching a scary movie, you get scared, but it’s safe. There is no real Pennywise, but there are a lot of real scary things going on in the world,” he said. “I don’t know if people are into horror films now more than ever. But I feel that’s what horror films do. You go to see something that’s pretend, and you get scared but it’s not real life. It’s a good feeling.”

[From US Magazine]

I really like his explanation for why we love horror so much. I’m a real horror fan, I already have my tickets to IT this Saturday, and I notice that I’ve been watching every horror movie possible lately. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, but I’ve never been as committed to the genre as I have been in the past few months, since the election if I consider it. He’s definitely on to something.

Skarsgard also talked to People magazine about getting out of character, interestingly enough. He had a hard time adjusting to life back at home after filming wrapped, and said he had disturbing dreams about Pennywise for weeks.

“I really enjoyed myself doing it, but the day after we wrapped, I went back home to Stockholm, Sweden, and it’s always a weird experience when you work really hard on something and then you go back to regular life at your childhood home.

“And that’s when I finally realized what an impact the character had had on me. For the following two weeks I would have these really disturbing dreams about Pennywise. It was very strange, it was almost like a really slow exorcism to completely let go of him.

“The closest thing I can liken it to is being in a very destructive relationship, because you never really realize you’re in one until you’re out.

“And then as soon as you’re out of it, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I can see it all so clearly now.’ Doing characters is almost like being in a relationship with a made-up person, and you don’t really see the journey clearly until it’s over.”

[From People]

Skarsgard added that he had “so much fun” playing the character and that he’s “really looking forward” to the sequel. That seemed like an end-of-interview save there because he sounded sincere about being disturbed as hell by that role. That just gives me goosebumps, I’m so ready for this film.

As for IT, it’s getting very good reviews and is sitting at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics say it’s both a coming of age story and an extremely scary edge-of-your-seat horror film. It’s also said to be true to the 80s with a throwback feel. I can’t wait!

World Premiere of 'IT' - Arrivals

World Premiere of 'IT' - Arrivals

World Premiere of 'IT' - Arrivals

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52 Responses to “Bill Skarsgard compares playing Pennywise to being in a destructive relationship”

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  1. Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

    I saw a preview on Monday – it’s really good and Skarsgard was effing great as Pennywise. He didn’t try to be Tim Curry and did his own thing with it very well.

    The child cast were also pretty awesome. Highly recommend it.

    • L84Tea says:

      Not that I really thought he would, but I’m so glad to hear that he did his own thing and did it well. Too many people harp on that Tim Curry did it bes–and yes, Tim Curry was brilliant as Pennywise, but I enjoy seeing how actors make their own spin on iconic roles. It gives the audience something new to enjoy about it.

    • grabbyhands says:

      That good to hear – I think they bring their own kind of horror to it.

      Tim Curry’s Pennywise was horrifying because he looked (until he opened his fang mouth) like a normal, funny clown but he had this menace to him that set your teeth on edge because it was confirmation of the feeling/fear that a lot of kids have that clowns are just not right. Like, he laughed as he brought out the terror and that made it worse.

      Bill’s Pennywise is all the terror up front, and that is good too. His version seems to be more – yeah, you were right. We’re not good and I’m not playing around. I’m just waiting for you.

      Aaaaand now I just freaked myself out. Good thing the day is just starting for me.

  2. ElleBee says:

    I HATE clowns, always ave but I’m an adult now and I’m considering watching this

  3. Lily says:

    The original was on yesterday and I couldn’t handle it.

    Really would love to see this one but I get so scared.

  4. grabbyhands says:

    Damn, that family has got some good genes. Askars will always be my number one Viking brother, but honestly-all three of them could get it.

    I’m a horror wimp of the first order (over active imagination) and even the commercials for IT are freaking me out a little and reminding me of how I almost had to sleep with the lights on for a while when I read it for the first time.

  5. Jaii says:

    We really need more Skarsgard on this site .

  6. Lucy says:

    Bill, it seems like you have arrived. Also, you’re actually pretty hot.

  7. Jenns says:

    I watched the original version this weekend and it’s so bad. Of course, it scared the crap out of me as a child, but watching it as an adult is a totally different experience. I will say that the first part with the kids wasn’t too terrible, but the adults? Oof.

    Tim Curry is still amazing though. And with the positive reviews, I’m exited to see how Bill plays Pennywise.

  8. Horse Marine says:

    The original was pretty bad, but Tim Curry was absolutely terrifying in it. Bill has some big clown shoes to fill. I didn’t have high expectations, but now I’m excited! I love horror movies, and IT is a classic.

    LMAO at Alex Skarsgard trolling. He’s so funny.

  9. Jess says:

    I hate horror movies (loathe them) and his explanation is the first time I’ve understood at least one reason people may like them.

  10. Aang says:

    Movie was meh. Does not do justice to an excellent book. None of the metaphysical, macroverse stuff. And no turtle or dead lights. The back stories of the kids were given short shrift. As was the history of Derry. And it wasn’t scary. By showing us and letting us hear Pennywise, I had used my scary feeling in the trailer. Maybe chapter 2 will be better.

  11. Joss RED says:

    I saw it last night, with friends, and I hate myself for spending 32 bucks on a crowded IMAX screening. Didn’t think it was scary at all (but clowns were never scary to me – nor funny), and I got really irritated at everybody frenetically screaming every five minutes or so.

    Guess I’m the problem…

  12. Rice says:

    I saw the movie before I read the book and it made me hate clowns even more. That said, I am definitely watching this. I love horror films: Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Candyman, all of the cult classics. The more recent horrors are utter rubbish, except for The Conjuring and The Cabin in the Woods.

    • WendyNerd says:

      I actually think we’re seeing a resurgence in good horror, almost like a renaissance, run. Even the first Saw film was decent (plot holes aside) before they turned that series into a pile of guts. Movies like It Follows, The Babadook, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Mama, the first Sinister and first Insidious, the Evil Dead remake, and Don’t Breathe were all excellent. Sure, we still get TONS of crap like Friend Request and the Bye Bye Man, but the last five years or so have seen far, far more quality horror releases than I remember during my high school and early college years, when everything was a Saw or Hostel ripoff. James Wan, ironically, has proven to be a huge asset to the genre (made the first Saw, the Conjuring films, Insidious), almost like what John Musker and Ron Clements are/were to the animated musical in the early 90′s. Fede Alvarez (The Evil Dead remake, Don’t Breathe) and Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) are also majorly exciting artists working in horror right now. And that’s just talking about western films. The eastern film market (NOT the crappy American remakes) has been bursting with good blood for a while now. Right now I’m actually more confident going to see a horror film than most dramas and comedies: Horror is even doing comedy better than the actual comedies these days — IT is funny, there’s Ash Vs Evil Dead on Starz (one of the funniest shows on TV right now that is super off-color yet oddly intersectional. Like, this is the sort of thing I WISH “anti-PC” sentiment was like. “Pablo is the vessel through which my children enter this world.” “Wait, are you saying Pablo is a vagina?”/ “Pablo, that’s awesome!” “Not such a vagina now, am I?” “Um, actually vaginas are powerful and life-affirming, so now you’re actually more of a vagina than ever.”)

      Horror is in the midst of a Renaissance.

  13. Marty says:

    I saw it last night and it was really good! Everyone does a really great job, I’m probably going to see it again, that’s how much I liked it. Also, it was surprisingly funny and heartwarming, definitely worth the watch if you were a fan of the original.

  14. WendyNerd says:

    I saw it. I was totally living up until the ending. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that what they did with the characters was really disappointing and cliche. All the acting in it was fantastic. Oddly enough, it was the little boy who played Georgie that impressed me the most, but of the main kids, Finn Wolfhand and the kid who played Eddie stole every scene Pennywise wasn’t in (and even a couple he was in.) Bill definitely was NOT doing a Tim Curry impression, and he was marvelous. But I have to warn you guys: if you have an issue watching children get hurt: DO NOT SEE THIS. They do NOT cut away. You WILL see mutialated child corpses.

  15. Madly says:

    Saw it last night and it was really good.

  16. Erica_V says:

    I hate watching horror movies because I’m too jumpy and squeamish but I love reading the plot recaps.

  17. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    I’m sure that, in context, this clown is very scary. But when I see still photos, all I can think is “Carrot Top” (which I guess is scary in its own way).

  18. shanti says:

    loved it.. thought the kids were awesome and the clown defiantly nightmare material . Best movie I’ve seen in ages

  19. aenflex says:

    The point and appearance of the original Pennywise, in both the novel and first film adaptation, was to be visually unassuming. Until he smiles, he’s just a clown.
    How can a frightfully disgusting and dangerous looking clown lure in children? He can’t.

    It’s actually more terrifying, IMO, when something so seemingly normal and commonplace has an evil undercurrent that shows occasionally versus something plainly evil.

  20. Fran says:

    Watched it last night and had nitemares.
    Loved it!