Stephen King forever tied the image of the innocent clown to the epitome of horror with the release of his novel It, which was then turned into a mini-series in 1990. The folks behind The Stephen King Club recently discovered a video that explained how King came up with the idea of the story and his inspirations for Pennywise, the evil clown.
During a public speaking event in Hamburg, Germany in 2013, Nicole Schröder recorded King's recollection of his initial concepts for the story.
“I had an idea when I was in Colorado that I wanted to write a really long book that had all of the monsters in it,” explained King. “I figured if people think I’m a horror writer — I never considered myself to be that myself, I’m just a writer-writer — I thought to myself, ‘I’ll get all of the monsters together as I possibly can; I’ll get the Vampire, I’ll get the Werewolf, and I’ll even get the Mummy.’"
He continued, "But then I thought to myself, ‘There out to be one binding, horrible, nasty, gross, creature kind of thing that you don’t want to see, [and] it makes you scream just to see it.’ So I thought to myself, ‘What scares children more than anything else in the world?’ And the answer was ‘clowns’.”
The author concluded, “So, I created Pennywise the Clown. Then, what happened was, ABC came along and said they wanted to make a mini-series out of it and wanted to cast Tim Curry as Pennywise. I thought it was a strange idea but it really worked and it scared a whole generation of young people and made them scared of clowns, but clowns are scary for children to start with.”
Scroll down to hear King describe his history with clowns during an interview with Conan O'Brien!
While visiting The Late Show with Conan O'Brien, the host asked King if he had any traumatic memories involving clowns, with King going on to explain all the reasons why clown scare children.
"As a kid, going to the circus, there would be 12 full-grown people that would all pile out of a little, tiny car, their faces were dead white, their mouths were red, as though they were full of blood, they're all screaming, their eyes are huge, what's not to like?" King joked.
I started to actually look at kids, when I grew up a little bit," King recalled, pointing out, "Kids are all terrified of them, and the parents are all like, 'Aren't the clowns funny, Johnny?!' and Johnny's like, 'No, get me the hell out of here! These people are all crazy!' Because they are monstrous-looking and children are really afraid of them. They do have that monstrous thing going for them."
King himself didn't have any particularly frightening experiences with clowns, but he did recall an event in which he had a close clown encounter.
During a particular strenuous book tour, King was on a flight when someone dressed as Ronald McDonald boarded the plane and sat next to him. At the appropriate time, the clown took out a cigarette and ordered a gin & tonic.
When King asked where the clown had come from, the clown replied, "McDonald-land."
Fans will have another chance to see if the frightening image of clowns hold up when a new adaptation of It lands in theaters on September 8.
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[H/T Dread Central]