In 1990, Stephen King’s epic novel It was adapted into a two-part mini-series for ABC, cementing a legacy as one of the most memorable stories of a killer clown. The adaptation’s villain, Pennywise the clown, was portrayed by Tim Curry, a performance which is still highly regarded by many today.
This fall, fans will have the opportunity to weigh in on another actor’s performance of the villain, with Bill Skarsgard playing the role in the R-rated remake.
When it comes to remakes, some films, like Gus Van Sant’s Psycho or Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, aim to mimic an original film’s success by recreating it shot-for-shot, giving audiences nothing new, other than actors and performances. Other remakes, like Rob Zombie’s Halloween, take the core concepts of an original film and give the whole thing an overhaul, offering an entirely new interpretation of a familiar story.
Although director Andy Muschietti ended up keeping Pennywise’s gender the same for the upcoming adaptation as previously seen in the mini-series and book, his sister/producing partner Barbara Muschietti recently revealed to JoBlo that they toyed with the idea of giving the part to a woman, even considering the idea of bringing in an actress who’s no stranger to embracing parts originally defined as male.
"Women, younger age, older age..."
As Barabara detailed the types of actors they considered for the iconic role, she explained, "We auditioned literally hundreds of potential Bob Grays or Pennywises and it was an amazing process."
The producer added that, despite the role originally being conceived as male, the filmmakers didn't limit their imaginations to audition just men, "We got to audition people that don’t audition anymore and a huge gamut of talent; women, younger age, older age, we really went through the spectrum of actors."
Throughout her career, actress Tilda Swinton has gained a reputation for taking on challenging roles, causing the interviewer to ask if the filmmakers ever considered her.
Muchietti clarified, "She wasn’t available. No, no, I swear to god. She was not. We had a slot to shoot the movie and she wasn’t available so she didn’t even audition. But of course, we all thought about it."
Swinton recently starred in Doctor Strange as The Ancient One, a role initially conceived as male, and has also played Gabriel in Constantine, a character that was never assigned a specific gender.
"Bill Skarsgard caught my attention..."
Although some fans might be disappointed with the selection of Skarsgard as the iconic character, the film's director recently revealed to Variety why Skarsgard was the perfect choice for the villain.
“I wanted to stay true to the essence of the character,” the director pointed out. “I knew that I didn’t want to go the road of Tim Curry. Bill Skarsgard caught my attention. The character has a childish and sweet demeanor, but there’s something very off about him. Bill has that balance in him. He can be sweet and cute, but he can be pretty disturbing.”
The original mini-series adaptation had strict guidelines and censorship issues, having to avoid some of the more violent and sordid details of the original story. This R-rated version of the story allows the film to go into some darker places.
"From our very first discussion with the people from New Line, it was understood that the movie was gonna be rated R," Muschietti revealed to Mad Movies (with a translation by The Losers' Club). "Of course, it was already crazy that they started a story revolving around the death of children. But if you aimed for a PG-13 movie, you had nothing at the end. So we were very lucky that the producers didn’t try to stop us. In fact, it’s more our own moral compass that sometimes showed us that some things lead us in places where we didn’t want to go.”
The storyline revolves around a group of young kids in Derry, Maine who come face-to-face with their worst fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.
The cast of IT
The adapted screenplay was penned by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman. The producers on the film include Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg and Barbara Muschietti, with Marty P. Ewing, Doug Davison and Jon Silk serving as executive producers.
Be sure to check out IT when the movie hits theaters on September 8, 2017.
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