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‘IT’ Star Bill Skarsgard Says He Was Fearful Taking on the Role of Pennywise the Clown

For an actor, stepping into a brand new role can seem like a challenging adventure.  However, stepping into a rebooted role, especially one which has already been portrayed by one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors seem to be down right terrifying.  This fear is something that Bill Skarsgard experienced first hand while filming the remake of Stephen King’s horror classic IT.

In a recent press interview, Skarsgard admitted that he was pretty fearful of taking on the role of Pennywise the clown – a role which Tim Curry made famous from the 1990s television miniseries adaptation of King’s novel.  He knew walking into this that comparisons would be made and fans of the original novel and series would certainly have high expectations for his performance in the role.  Skarsgard said:

“When I finally booked the job I’m like ‘holy shit I’m doing this now.’ The first stage was just like ‘I’m getting it. I’m going to fucking get this role.’ And then [the next stage is] like, ‘I got the role! Oh my God! What do I do with it?’ Maybe I just fooled all these people in trusting me. So there’s this fear into it.  In Toronto leading up to production, I was like, ‘How am I going to pull this off?  This fear started creeping in of people having opinions and anticipations and they’ll have expectations that I’m not going to live up to and I felt that people were almost anxious to shit all over whatever I was going to do here.”

But much like the Losers Club kids in the film, Skarsgard fought through his fears and pushed forward to deliver an incredible performance in the film.  Skarsgard said it was Andy and Barbara Muschietti who gave him the confidence to do so:

“I was reminding myself, ‘well, Andy believes in what you’re doing here. He, and Barbara as well, they’ve stressed how happy they are that you’re here and they believe in you.’ And that was enough for me to go, ‘okay Bill, just go with it.’ I knew I can’t have fear and I can’t pull anything back here. I trust Andy and I trust Barbara and I’m gonna give them all I have and I can’t resist anything. The fear has given me everything that I have. The movie would be able to be made, or I wouldn’t be able to make the character any other way.”

This internal struggle which Skarsgard dealt with was completely unbeknownst to Muschietti who put full trust into Skarsgard and his performance in the film.  Muschietti said, with a laugh:

“When we met we bonded pretty quickly. There was a very quick development of trust because I didn’t have all the answers so, I trusted you. I didn’t know that you were afraid.  I thought, ‘oh, he knows what he’s doing.’”

It would seem that Skarsgard’s ability to channel his fear into this totally creepy and terrifying character has paid off especially since early reports from set indicated that his portrayal of Pennywise actually made children cry while filming.

We’ll all be able to find out for ourselves in just a couple of days!  The remake of Stephen King’s IT will hit theaters this weekend on September 8th.

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Denise Caputo

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A self-proclaimed nerd, karaoke junkie, craft beer enthusiast and lover of all things pop culture, Denise enjoys all facets of entertainment from Broadway to box office blockbusters. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, concerts (lots and lots of concerts), volunteering, reading and playing with her rescue kitten, Samantha (who rescued who, right?). Denise currently resides in Long Island, New York and is honored to be a part of the Fan Fest News team!