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How Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise Audition For IT Was Different From Everyone Elses’

Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in IT

IT has been one of Stephen King's most popular stories for decades, but up until the release of the IT movie last year, the only actor who had played Pennywise the Dancing Clown was Tim Curry, and that was in 1990. So Bill Skarsgard had a lot of freedom with putting his own spin on the demonic character when IT was being adapted for the silver screen, and that was happening even before he had officially scored the role. As producer Seth Grahame-Smith recalled on one of the IT Blu-ray special features, Skarsgard showed up to his audition in full clown makeup, which is something you likely don't easily forget when thinking back on watching past auditions. Grahame-Smith noted:

What I remember most about first seeing his audition was that he put the makeup on, and I don't remember anybody else putting the makeup on. From the first time you saw him, you weren't seeing him. You were seeing his interpretation of a clown, and you were also seeing that he was committed to the point where he had someone do his makeup. Passion often wins the day, and Bill brought incredible passion. He chased this role. He knew he could do it, and he was going to make us understand that he could do it.

It's one thing for someone to go into an IT audition and show that they'd make a great Pennywise by doing a creepy voice or even making weird movements, but Bill Skarsgard went the extra mile and covered his face in white makeup. The entire ensemble was enough to convince Seth Grahame-Smith and the rest of the IT creative team that Skarsgard had the passion and commitment to deliver a captivating Pennywise performance, and judging by how well the IT movie was received critically and commercially, it all paid off in the end. I guess the moral of this story is that if you find yourself auditioning to play a killer clown, it couldn't hurt to paint your face white and lips red to make an even better impression.

Because the original IT novel is such a massive tome, the IT movie only chronicled approximately half of the original story, where the adolescent members of the Losers Club were being terrorized by Pennywise. IT: Chapter 2 will adapt the other half of the novel, when the now-adult protagonists return to Derry, Maine to defeat the shapeshifting entity once and for all, meaning that most of the cast will be brand new. Fortunately for Bill Skarsgard, though, he'll be back for another round of frightening humans, be it in clown form or something even scarier.

IT is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. IT: Chapter 2 will scare its way into theaters on September 6, 2019. Keep checking in with CinemaBlend for updates on how the sequel is coming along, and be sure to look through our 2018 premiere guide to find out what movies will arrive over the course of this year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.