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.”
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.”
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!