ByJasmine Callender, writer at
Lover of superheroes, special effects, and the occassional high-speed car chase.
Jasmine Callender

An eerie creak of a tricycle, an echoing laugh and a white-painted face with a scarlet smile – clowns are a horror formula that stand the test of time. We see them as everything they are not meant to be: villains, demons and the like. It is no surprise then, with the long-awaited IT remake making a killing at the box office, its actors are being quizzed on their characters. In an interview with Bill Skarsgård, one clown-prince counterpart happens to spring into conversation – Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight.

But how similar are they really? Let's review.

Joker Versus Pennywise: The Villain And The Monster

[Credit: Warner Bros.]
[Credit: Warner Bros.]

The infamous and predatory Pennywise was made famous by Tim Curry almost three decades ago, but it was Bill Skarsgård's task to delve into the character and all-things-evil for the remake. The Hemlock Grove star spoke to People Magazine about the record-breaking flick, and when asked about the similarities of interpretation in both and The Dark Knight, he instead shed some light on a key contrast between them - a sense of reality.

“I think the biggest difference between Pennywise and the Joker character — or at least Heath Ledger’s interpretation — is that he’s far more based in reality. “[The Joker] is sort of this social anarchist, crazy person, and I don’t think Pennywise is the same in that way. He’s not even human, he’s just pure evil.”

Both characters hide their motives behind a sinister image that echoes that our childhood memories. Nothing is more deceptive than a clown, right? It takes more than a little prep to don that face-paint, though as recent cinema has shown, Pennywise is no exception.

Becoming The Character

[Credit: Warner Bros.]
[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Encompassing the character of the nightmare clown has been a task for many actors. Speaking to Collider, Skarsgård admitted he explored Pennywise's motives and manner extensively in order to create something he would be scared of:

"Your own kind of fears and what you find disturbing and amplify that in terms of the performance. Essentially, what you’ll end up seeing in the film is my own deepest fears embodied in this character."

He even admitted to having nightmares once the film wrapped, describing it as a "slow exorcism to completely let go of him.”

Although the characters have different circumstances, the same can be said for the Joker. From Heath Ledger's sporadic mannerisms to Jared Leto's dark sense of the Joker overspilling behind the scenes, the media has documented all aspects of their method acting. The dark rationale behind their psychotic interpretations is hard to tap into and it evidently takes a lot more than a scarlet lipstick and a sinister laugh.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Love them or hate them, the clown is a haunting symbol in cinema and one which will liley be reformed for years to come. Heath Ledger's Joker has gone down in history as a legend of a generation, but do you think Skarsgard's Pennywise could do the same? Do you agree with what was said in the interview and the comparisons made?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

[Source: People Magazine, Collider,


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