The new It, with Bill Skarsgård portraying Pennywise the clown, looks absolutely terrifying, and that was especially true for the child extras who worked on the film. Apparently, Skarsgård was so scary in the role of the sadistic clown that he actually made kids cry on set.
In a recent interview with the aptly-named Interview Magazine, the Swedish actor said the following about his portrayal of the Stephen King character who was immortalized by Tim Curry in the original mini series:
“It’s a really weird thing to go, ‘If I succeed at doing what I’m trying to do with this character, I’ll traumatize kids.’ On set, I wasn’t very friendly or goofy. I tried to maintain some sort of weirdness about the character, at least when I was in all the makeup. At one point, they set up this entire scene, and these kids come in, and none of them have seen me yet. Their parents have brought them in, these little extras, right? And then I come out as Pennywise, and these kids—young, normal kids—I saw the reaction that they had. Some of them were really intrigued, but some couldn’t look at me, and some were shaking. This one kid started crying. He started to cry and the director yelled, ‘Action!’ And when they say ‘action,’ I am completely in character. So some of these kids got terrified and started to cry in the middle of the take, and then I realized, ‘Holy s—t. What am I doing? What is this? This is horrible.’
Skarsgård added that he apologized immediately after the take and assured the kids it was all pretend, because he’s not an actual monster, but this account still excites us for the film even more. The first It trailer was viewed a whopping 197 million times in the first 24 hours after its online release — easily the record for a movie trailer — and for an R-rated horror movie, that’s doubly impressive. There’s clearly a sense of nostalgia for the 1990 original that traumatized a generation and normalized a healthy fear of clowns, but there’s also excitement for what looks to be a legitimately scary and extremely well-made film.
And while adults will certainly flock to the movie, the new It also has the potential to traumatize a new generation of kids and put the fear of clowns into them — a concept that’s not lost on Skarsgård. “Hopefully, there will be a lot of 10-year-olds who will be traumatized forever based on my performance,” he joked.
I sincerely hope so. It opens in theaters on September 8.