It is really happening. The big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s masterpiece of horror has had a tumultuous time getting made, but things are finally falling into place. The biggest puzzle piece has always been who will be cast as the villainous Pennywise the Dancing Clown, a role made memorable by Tim Curry when the story was made into a television movie in 1990. Today’s news has finally given us an answer to this most important of questions.
Bill Skarsgård will be donning the white makeup and red nose to play a devourer of children in the upcoming two-part adaptation directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama). Skarsgård is most recently known for his role as Roman Godfrey on Netflix’s Hemlock Grove, so the guy is no stranger to the horror genre. It may actually help that he’s relatively unknown to general audiences — he had a small role in Allegiant earlier this year — so it will be easier for viewers to see him as the character of Pennywise rather than the actor behind the monster.
Fans had been clamoring for more recognizable character actors like Tilda Swinton or Paul Giamatti in the role, but going with someone who is younger and unfamiliar to most of the audience is a smarter move. There’s also something immensely childlike about Skarsgård — those emotive eyes! — that could play very well into the story’s themes about childhood and innocence. While Tim Curry’s portrayal was something of a campy blast, Pennywise should be able to present himself as a welcoming entity at times in order to lure unsuspecting children into his clutches. Seeing as how the first scene of the book is an iconic and terrifying introduction to the character — the infamous “clown in a storm drain” sequence — it’ll be interesting to see how Skarsgård plays things right out the gate.
It will take inspiration from the television movie version by releasing in two parts; the first will focus on the main cast of characters as children while the second will be about them returning to fight It as adults. From what we know, it sounds like the story’s timeline will be updated so the adult portion will take place in modern day, making the children’s section of the tale take place sometime in the 1980s instead of the original period of the 1950s. This is a decision that fans are fairly anxious about but we’ll see how this change affects the overall story.
It has the potential to be a more wide-reaching horror movie than we’ve seen in recent years. If New Line and Muschietti can do the story justice, it’s possible that this could be something really special. Here’s hoping.