As portrayed by Bill Skarsgard in Andres Muschietti's IT, Pennywise is a rather terrifying site. Clowns are rather creepy under normal circumstances, but there's an extra bit of fear that comes packed with knowing that he loves mutilating and eating children. Obviously he's just a character in a movie and not really an interdimensional, shapeshifting manifestation of evil, but he did still successfully manage to give some of his fellow actors the creeps. Discussing the presence of Pennywise on set, Skarsgard's young co-stars recently told me,
Finn Wolfhard: [It was] as normal as it could have been.
Wyatt Oleff: More near the end, the very last day, we were with him, it was like, 'Hey, dude, what's up?'
Chosen Jacobs: He had a tank-top on and his face make-up, he'd be like [slings arm over back of his chair]... Drinking water - what?
Wyatt Oleff: Pennywise doesn't do that!
Jack Dylan Grazer: The further we got in filming, we had to get used to it. But the first time we saw him it was like, [meekly] '...hey man. What's going on?'
All seven members of The Losers Club in the new adaptation of IT - Jaeden Leiberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Sophia Lillis -- were on-hand at the Los Angles press day for the film late last month. Split into two groups, I asked them about their experiences working with Bill Skarsgard on set, and they both told me that the presence of Pennywise when cameras weren't rolling was something that they really had to adjust to when they were on set.
The IT stars who spoke to the question made it clear that being around Pennywise wasn't crazy comfortable at first -- but part of what allowed them to ease into the off-camera relationship was finding a bit of humor in his presence. Not only was it kind of silly to see Stephen King's terrifying clown wearing just a tank top instead of his full costume, Finn Wolfhard noted that he got a few laughs just watching Bill Skarsgard drink water while in full make-up. Said the young actor,
It was funny, because Bill has that red makeup on his lips, so he can't really drink bottles of water. So it would be really funny because we'd be doing a scene, and all of sudden he'd be like, 'Can I get some water please?' And they'd bring him a bottle of water with a bendy straw and he'd be like [purses lips to imitate drinking].
That isn't exactly behind-the-scenes footage that you want to see before seeing IT on the big screen, as it could have an effect on your feelings regarding Pennywise -- but we can certainly pray to the Movie Gods that we will see at least a moment of that bit of ridiculousness on the Blu-ray.
As for the actual conversations that the young actors would have with Bill Skarsgard, they were tinged by their own bit of weirdness as well. Jack Dylan Glazer told me that Skarsgard was a bit aloof just because Pennywise isn't supposed to have an amazing relationship with the Losers Club; though Jaeden Leiberher recounted talks where the elder performer seemed to forget what he actually looked like:
Jack Dylan Grazer: I don't think he wanted us to. When he's in his character, he's in his character.
Jaeden Leiberher: But also when he was still in his make-up he does talk to us, and I think he almost forgets that he's in make-up. Because he'll talk to us like a normal human, but we look at him and we see a clown who is trying to kill us!
You can watch the IT stars talk about their experiences working alongside Bill Skarsgard by clicking play on the video below.
I've shared a lot from my interviews with the IT stars and filmmakers so far -- including actor suggestions for the sequel, the bizarre trick Bill Skarsgard was able to bring to the role of Pennywise, and the funny prank the kids pulled mid-production -- but I'm far from done! Be on the lookout for more this week and next, and catch the new horror featurein theaters this Friday, September 8th.