How Bill Skarsgard Transformed Into Pennywise


Pennywise was famously first brought to life
by Tim Curry in the original It mini-series. If the filmmakers behind the new It movies
were going to make their mark, they needed a Pennywise for the ages. Here’s how Bill Skarsgård rose to the challenge. Skarsgård began developing his take on Pennywise
well before he actually started shooting any scenes. He took plenty of inspiration from Stephen
King’s original novel, which helped him understand the balance between Pennywise’s evil, cosmic
origin and its more recognizable clown form. But he had very few visual cues to draw from
as he first began to flesh out what made the creature tick. This created certain challenges in designing
the character, particularly in terms of his voice, which in the film ranges from childlike
to nasally and wavering to outright monstrous. “Popcorn! Is that your favorite?” “Uh-huh.” “Mine too!” For Skarsgård, that voice and its many facets
could not fully come into his head until he saw what Pennywise actually looked like. He told Collider: “It was really when we did the full make-up
test and see what the character would actually look like … My first test with the prosthetics
and makeup was where I saw what the character would actually look like with me in it. That’s something I needed to explore to [discover]
what this thing would sound like.” With makeup artists, digital effects artists,
costumers, and director Andy Muschietti’s own designs for the character, Skarsgård
had a lot of help getting into the look of Pennywise. Pennywise’s demonic grin, for example, is
created by Skarsgård drooping his lower lip down so that it almost comes to a point. That’s not a prosthetic or digital effect,
but simply something he’s always been able to do. “Can we see that? Do you mind — just for that camera right
there.” “Which one?” “Number three?” “Yeah.” When Muschietti was designing the character,
he had the idea that sometimes one of Pennywise’s eyes would wander, and told Skarsgård that
he would add the lazy eye in digitally in post-production. Skarsgård explained that he could do it…
and revealed that he could trigger his own lazy eye. “What are the chances that the actor that
you cast can do that practically?” Because Pennywise takes the form of a clown,
his costume was obviously always going to be a key part of the overall look, and for
that Muschietti turned to costume designer Janie Bryant. Rather than take the more modern circus clown
approach of the miniseries, Bryant went for something a little more timeless, with Victorian
and even Elizabethan influence to give it a sense of history and even immortality. In shaping the costume, Bryant added peplum
around the waist, a ruff at the neck, and other assorted blossoms of fabric to create
a certain effect. Bryant explained: “I wanted it to have an organic, gourd or
pumpkin kind of effect. It helps exaggerate certain parts of the body. The costume is very nipped in the waist, and
with the peplum and bloomers it has an expansive silhouette.” The exaggerated effect created by the costume
gives the already tall Skarsgård the look of having impossibly long limbs, and the tightness
around his torso suggests the body of an insect scuttling around the sewers of Derry. Bryant also emphasized a high waist and kept
the pants short to add to the character’s childlike qualities. In preparing for the role, Skarsgård watched
the 1990 miniseries adaptation of It, featuring Tim Curry’s generation-terrifying performance
as the original Pennywise. He also made the decision not to specifically
study Curry, because he knew his Pennywise needed to be different. To that end, Skarsgård brought together an
intriguing and diverse array of influences. He studied footage of animals to help him
get into the more predatory aspects of the character, and found himself particularly
drawn to hyenas and bears as influences. He also drew inspiration from another iconic
clown of cinema, Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, though Skarsgård acknowledged
there were limits to that comparison, since, quote, “Heath Ledger’s Joker is rooted in
the real; you can break down the psychology.” He acknowledged, however, that the same rules
didn’t apply to Pennywise, since he’s not, quote, “a real person.” “Sticks the blade in my mouth. ‘Let’s put a smile on that face!'” Both Skarsgård and Muschietti have emphasized
the “childlike” quality of Pennywise, and to help bring that into the performance – particularly
when Pennywise lunges at his victims – Skarsgård took inspiration from his little brother. He told Rolling Stone: “I don’t know if you’ve seen kids run like
this, but they move their arms way too fast, and it looks really, really funny. And I just loved the way my brother ran as
a kid. It was just out of sync. So I incorporated that into the character,
and you get this really explosive effect. It’s really unsettling when it happens.” “I’m not afraid of you.” “You will be.” Though Muschietti was determined to use practical
effects as often as possible in the film – even allowing Skarsgård to do quite a few of his
own stunts – Pennywise is still a shapeshifting monster from another dimension, which meant
that, sometimes, stunt doubles and digital effects were going to be the way to go. Digital effects came in handy when it came
to designing Pennywise’s expanding mouth with its rows of teeth. According to Rodeo FX visual effects supervisor
Arnaud Brisebois, the effects team designed a digital “rig” that allowed them to animate
Pennywise’s terrifying mouth with as much detail as possible. Brisebois told SYFY: “The teeth rig was all hand-animated. We basically modeled the teeth all individually
or as clusters that could be grown and oriented in any way.” The digital effects team was also called upon
for the sequence in which Pennywise crawls out of the fridge in addition to, of course,
the final showdown, in which the character is constantly changing shape. Brisebois explained: “Basically what they did was bring in all
the stunt performers into a gym, and they learned the choreography and they motion-captured
this. We built really quick CG assets for all the
characters, including Pennywise, and we planned out all his transformations and the action.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
horror movies are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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100 Replies to “How Bill Skarsgard Transformed Into Pennywise

  1. The original penny wise..was cute very funny and had a scary moment here and there..being a tv series it was okay…when your a young child watching a clown take on a scary face sure he will be scary..but this new penny wise had me at the edge of my seat..and I even jumped more than a few times..so as much as the original was cool the new one gets my vote..just my opinion

  2. Tim curry was so underrated as it he gave me the fear and nightmares for a long while I was ten when I watched it and my name is Billy

  3. I wonder what looper and watch mojo are going to do for content after this opening weekend; “What to maybe potentially expect from the supposed possible sequel that Andy mentioned during an interview where he said he might be interested in Its backstory perhaps.”

  4. 1990's Pennywise: Tim Curry in clown makeup and costume
    Modern Pennywise: A hot Swedish guy in clown makeup and costume

  5. Loving the original movies with Tim at the helm of Pennywise, He set a very high bar and was great. For me, I didn't know how Bill would do. But WOW!!!!! Bill was simply fantastic and with no disrespect to Tim Curry, I feel Bill has given a perfect performance and not only met but also raised that bar. He is so very skilled with a ton of outstanding talents he's brought to the table bringing Pennywise to life. Seeing Chapter 2 tomorrow night! Can't wait!

  6. Now that Muschietti is doing Flash I think Bill would make a great Eobard Thawne. He is in the same age circle as Ezra and plays the role of a creep obsessed with the protagonist pretty well

  7. Bill skarsgard has made it iconic still it's a ghost , he has taken a genius approach to this character. There are still so many things i would like to point out like his infamous scary run and his stare , but ending it in short . That this will be a character worth remembering.

  8. It's like trying to compare Heath Ledgers joker to Jack Nicholsons, both are unique, impossible to compare, same with Scarsgard vs Curry Pennywise, I love them both

  9. Tim curry was good because it was dressed more like AN actual clown from a carnival but bill Skarsgard IS WAY SCARIERRR

  10. I was completely blown away when I learned that he is the brother of Gustaf Skarsgard the actor who plays Floki in Vikings series and they both are sons of Stellan Skarsgard, recently seen in Chernobyl. There's something in their blood which makes them extraordinary actors.

  11. Am I the only one who thinks Bill looks like a cross between Armin van Buuren and Avicii? Bill and Avicii are both swedish and Armin is Dutch. So, you know, sorta makes sense.

  12. props to bill for being able to hold his lip like that for so long, it’s actually hard to do for long periods of time. i can do it and honestly i am amazed at how long he could hold it.

  13. I’ve seen One and was like damn this is good! Looking forward to Part 2 now!!!! Tim Curry was good and so is Bill Skarsgard!!! Both gave me nightmares! Lol 😂 🎈🎈🎈🎈🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡so no contest really! They shouldn’t compare the two because Pennywise is scary and creepy no matter who plays him!!!

  14. Tbh I think bills take on pennywise is a bit inspired my Heath Ledgers joker
    Sorry I might of got the name wrong
    They both worked hard on developing a clown themselves

  15. I remember watching It (2017) for the first time, Bill Skarsgård's Pennywise is really scary. Its very unpredictable and unsettling.

  16. Skarsgard is the perfect pennywise! His lip and wandering eye done without digital effects is perfect! Seeing part 2 soon!👍

  17. OOF I too can trigger my own lazy eye but it gets uncontrollable soon so during random times one of the eyes goes straight and the other eye goes into another direction

  18. I was simply scrolling through the list of videos on YouTube and then came across the title of this video.
    Thanks for spoiling my show which is 2 hrs from now!

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