Why The IT Movie Changed Pennywise's Look, According To The Director

Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in IT

Even though the upcoming IT took more cues from Stephen King's original novel than the 1990 miniseries, it's inevitable that there will be some comparisons between the movie and the TV adaptation from more than two decades ago. This will no doubt include comparing the look of two live action Pennywises. While Tim Curry's version of the Dancing Clown looked more like one of the performers you would find at a circus in the latter half of the 20th century, Bill Skarsgard's version is dressed like he belongs in the century before that. The reason for this change in appearance, according to IT director Andres Muschietti, was so Pennywise would be better represented as an entity who's been creeping around for millennia. In Muschietti's words:

Well, the fact that this entity has been around for thousands of years... I'm more drawn--- I never--- aesthetically, I don't dig the 20th century clown. I think it looks cheap, and it's too related to social events and stuff and circus and stuff, which circus is fine, but I'm more aesthetically attracted to the old time, like the 19th century clown. And given that this guy has been around for centuries, I wondered myself why, why not, having an upgrade that was 1800s.

Andres Muschietti then added in his interview with Collider that while he appreciates the aesthetics of the 19th century, the primary reason he chose to make Pennywise's clown outfit look older was so his need to "bring something in to the equation," calling it an "instinctive choice." That instinct certainly paid off in making Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise look scarier. However, Pennywise is also a shapeshifting entity who draws children in and then preys on them using their deepest fears. Whatever your opinion on Tim Curry's Pennywise may be, his clown getup made him look more approachable...until the fangs came out, that is. Skarsgard's Pennywise, on the other hand, looks creepy from the get-go, and it's harder to imagine anyone, even a kid, believing he's a harmless figure at first.

Stephen King's IT will be split into two parts for its theatrical adaptation. Next month's movie, i.e. IT Part 1, will focus on the the adolescent members of The Losers' Club dealing with Pennywise in Derry, Maine following the murder of Georgie Denbrough, while Part 2 will reunite with the protagonists as adults when they come into contact with Pennywise again when visiting their hometown. As with any adaptation, IT is taking some creative liberties, like moving the narrative to the 1980s and not leaning into the mythology of The Turtle, but for the most part it's expected to be a straightforward adaptation.

IT scares its way onto the big screen September 8. Don't forget to also look through our 2017 movie premiere guide to find out what other theatrical offerings are coming for the remainder of the year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.