‘It’ (now dubbed ‘It: Chapter One) proved to be an even bigger hit than anticipated when it hit theaters this fall. A full month before Halloween, fans were thirsty for some thrills and frights and this coming of age/horror flick delivered in spades and it all hinged on the performance of Bill Skarsgård as killer clown Pennywise. Not only did he have to live up to the indelible performance that Tim Curry provided in the classic 1990 TV miniseries. Luckily, Skarsgård rose to the occasion and is sure to haunt a new generation’s nightmares for years to come.
His creepy performance was so striking that the young Swede (and brother of Alexander) has earned the honor of being one of ‘Entertainment Weekly”s Entertainers of the Year. As part of his feature in the magazine, Skarsgård recounted the process of auditioning for the role and how he approached his role.
“For the callback, director Andy Muschietti asked for people to wear simple whiteface. Not a clown nose, but a red-painted nose and a clown smile. I thought this was a great idea – up until the point where I realize I don’t know how to put on makeup. That’s a skill I don’t have.
“I ended up asking my girlfriend to put some makeup on that morning, and then I get into the car and had to drive across L.A. in this clown makeup. There was something kind of humiliated and absurd about the whole thing.
“Andy 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.
“Something I found disturbing was that I wanted Pennywise to feel entirely unpredictable at every moment, and also his voice doesn’t have a predictable way of sounding. It can go kind of up and down and crackle, you can go really high pitch and low pitch, even in the same sentence… It can be soft and it can be whispery and it can be alluring, then it crackles and breaks a lot of times. He’s not entirely there, you know? It’s sort of this entity performing as a clown but it’s also something so much more sinister, just beneath the surface at all times. Even with the eyes pointing in different directions and the crackling of the voice, you find something that’s not, entirely … right.
“For me, I’ve discovered that almost every character that you play tends to have a note, almost like a tone, or a hum. I almost discovered it with this character, but with Pennywise it was always sort of a scream. Or his hysterical laugh. I would do that before takes or right before going into a scene and then, ‘Action!’ That energy carries into the scene and also the energy of the character.
“It was such a physically demanding performance that I wasn’t as chit-chatty and mingling with the crew as I normally am. I had to sort of stay very focused and somewhat isolated on set in order to do justice to the character.
“I just needed to allow myself to go very crazy and be silly and really embrace the weirdness and scariness of it all.”
It seems to have worked well, as ‘It’ was not only a box office smash, but a hit with critics. (85% on Rotten Tomatoes.) He is currently filming the Hulu TV series ‘Castle Rock’, based on the works of Stephen King, weaving together characters and ideas from various stories including ‘It’ as well as ‘The Shining’, ‘The Green Mile’, ‘Rita Hayworth & The Shawshank Redemption’ and many more. He is then slated to return for ‘It: Chapter Two’ which is due to begin filming in the spring to be released on September 6, 2019.
‘It: Chapter One’ will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 9th, 2018.
Source: Entertainment Weekly