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Bill Skarsgard surprised a lot of people with his portrayal as Pennywise the Clown in IT last year. However, the actor now says returning to the role has been a very different experience. It seems that in the intervening months since IT became one of the biggest horror movies of all time, Pennywise has taken on something of a life of his own, and now the actor feels something of a disconnect between himself and Pennywise that wasn't there the first time around. According to Skarsgard...
This time around, because the movie became such a phenomenon, it's almost like I'm re-adapting myself. The character became very iconic. Pennywise became a star. You see Instagram posts of people dressing up or dressing their kids as Pennywise for Halloween. It's all over the place. LeBron James was Pennywise. How surreal is that? So, it became this completely universal thing, outside of the thing. That's not me. I can't even relate myself to it anymore. And now that I'm going back and doing it, it's such a bizarre thing. I don't think I'll ever really experience anything like it. It's this dualistic thing of me and the work and the character, and then the thing that it became, but it's fun. We had the read-through and I've done some rehearsals, and I was surprised how much of the character was just there already. I instantly could access him again, like it was yesterday that we wrapped the first one. It was just all there. So, the work and preparation and figuring out the character is almost intuitive, which is pretty cool. It's a very strange thing, but I'm trying to enjoy the ride, as much as I can.
It's certainly true that Pennywise, and Bill Skarsgard's version of him specifically, became iconic almost overnight following IT. The film became one of the biggest horror movies of all time at the box office, which gave the green light to the follow-up IT Chapter Two which is now in production. However, while Skarsgard was certainly a large part of the reason that Pennywise became such a popular character, it seems the actor didn't really feel responsible for that.
When Bill Skarsgard came to play Pennywise the first time he was an unknown playing the part of a character that, while popular to Stephen King fans, wasn't exactly a cultural icon. Now, it seems Skarsgard might feel slightly intimidated by taking on the role of this popular character, even though he's part of the reason that happened at all. The phenomenon has now become bigger than the role.