2017 was a banner year for horror, filled with high-quality and successful movies like Get Out or almost anything released by Blumhouse. This year also saw the release of IT, the highest grossing horror movie ever made. People flocked to the theater to be terrified by Pennywise the Dancing Clown, whose crazed attitude and quest for tasty children made him the best movie monster of the year. One can only imagine the auditioning process to get such a role, and actor Bill Skarsgard not so shockingly revealed that it was a creepy process that involved lots of makeup and maniacal laughter.
The search for Pennywise was a daunting exercise filled with scares and a good amount of humiliation. When Bill Skarsgard got the callback, director Andy Muschietti asked people to wear clown makeup: simple white face with a red painted nose and a big red smile. Skarsgard was happy to do it, but it meant driving across Los Angeles while looking like a demented clown. Here's how he tells it:
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. I'm an actor auditioning in Hollywood, and I'm driving with a clownface on. It's kind of a metaphor for what the profession of acting feels like.
But Pennywise doesn't just look (extremely) scary, he also has to sound scary. The voice is a huge part of Bill Skarsgard's performance as Pennywise, who has a voice that can change pitches in the middle of a sentence. That all starts with the laugh and Skarsgard told Entertainment Weekly that he had to practice his insane clown laugh while wearing his insane clown makeup on his drive to the audition
Andy [Muschietti] 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.
Commuting in LA is hard enough, right? Even after Bill Skarsgard had reached his destination, he still had to walk a few blocks to get to his audition while still in full makeup. Skarsgard stayed in character the entire time while walking to the audition, which we assume means lots of creepy stares with his lazy eye. The actor felt that the experience sums up his approach to the character: putting himself out of his comfort zone in order to play a very unpredictable character.
If you feel like reliving the terror that was IT, the movie is out on Digital right now and will release on Blu-ray and DVD on January 9, 2018. However, you might want to save your bucks because a Directors Cut is also on the way, too. And let's not forget about IT: Chapter 2, which is currently in development.