When New Line Cinema announced it was looking to remake Stephen King's iconic horror novel It, many were skeptical. After the popularity and cult success of the 1990 mini-series, the hunt was on to cast the movie's nightmarish, (ostensibly) titular character. Back in 1990, It starred Rocky Horror icon Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. His interpretation of the character won him enormous amounts of acclaim, and left some very big clown shoes to fill.
Back in June, after a rocky start and a slew of casting rumours, New Line finally found their Pennywise. Stockholm-born Bill Skarsgård will be tormenting the Losers Club come 2017 — but who exactly is he? Perhaps you know him for his famous family, or his starring role in the Netflix original series, Hemlock Grove. Well, here is everything you need to know about your new (Scandinavian) Pennywise.
1. He Comes From a Swedish Acting Dynasty
While I do not want to accredit Bill's success to his family name, it can't hurt belonging to one of the most successful (and attractive) acting families in Hollywood. Born in Stockholm in 1990, Bill is the son of My and Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), and brother to Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) — you may have heard of him. His other brothers, Gustaf and Valter are also actors (Gustaf stars as Floki in Vikings), while his younger sister Eija is a model, and brother Sam, a doctor. Now that's a family reunion I definitely wanna go to!
2. He's Listed as Both an Actor and a Model (A.K.A. He's a Babe)
It's hard to believe such a young and gorgeous individual could be transformed into such a nightmare-inducing sociopath — but that's the magic of cinema for you. While Bill was getting into acting, he also modelled for clothing giant H&M, and GQ Magazine.
3. He Got His First Big Hollywood Break Co-Starring In The Divergent Series: Allegiant
While Bill's been acting since 2000, his first big movie break came with the role of Matthew in Allegiant. However, he's been a rising star in Sweden for quite some time, being nominated for the Guldbagge award for his role in the Swedish-language movie Simple Simon.
Want more It? Check out:
- 3 Reasons Why The 'It' Remake Might Be Good
- 'It' Remake Will Take Inspiration From 'Stranger Things'
- It's Not Just About Pennywise: It's Powers In 'It' Movie Remake
4. He Isn't New to Horror
Anyone who has seen Netflix's Hemlock Grove know that Skarsgård is no stranger to blood thirsty characters. Produced by horror hound Eli Roth, Bill stars as Roman Godfrey, a Upir (sort of vampire) who is both revered and feared in his small but tormented town. His character was twisted and disturbed in more subtle ways than Pennywise, but if you've seen the show, you'll know the darkness he is capable of portraying.
Speaking to Collider about his role in Hemlock Grove, Bill talks about playing such a complicated and brutal character:
"I think what I at least try to do, to justify the supernatural elements and to use that as an opportunity to portray something too extreme for being human? [...] So it’s fun to play a character that goes through all of these really extreme things."
5. He Wasn't the First Choice to Play The Dancing Clown
The It remake has had its fair share of setbacks since it's gotten off the ground. True Detective's Cary Fukunaga wrote the original screenplay, and the film entered pre-production with Stephen King's blessing. Fukunaga made the decision to split the book into two films, and in July 2015 he cast young actor Will Poulter as Pennywise. However, in the same month, Fukunaga walked off the project, telling Variety that New Line wanted "a much more inoffensive, conventional script."
Mama director Andrés Muschietti jumped on the project in Fukunaga's wake, and reworked the script with Gary Dauberman. While Muschietti was keen to keep Poulter as Pennywise, there were too many schedule conflicts after the shoot was pushed back a year, and Poulter was no longer able to commit to the part. In June of this year, fellow up-and-coming actor Bill Skarsgård was cast in his place.
Other actors considered for the role were Mark Rylance, Ben Mendelsohn, Kirk Acevedo and Hugo Weaving.
6. It Looks Like He Totally Understands What Pennywise Is, and How to Bring Him to Life
While we have seen very little of Bill's Pennywise, we now know what it will look like — and it looks terrifying. Sufferers of coulrophobia be warned, this won't be the movie for you. While the costume is a fresh reimagining of the iconic clown suit, it is only one facet of the characterization. What will bring Pennywise to life is Skarsgård's ability to provoke real terror. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Skarsgård said:
“It’s such an extreme character. Inhumane, It’s beyond even a sociopath, because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings It creates.”
"It’s important that we do something fresh and original for this one. It’s purposely not going toward that weird, greasy look [...] It truly enjoys the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt. What’s funny to this evil entity might not be funny to everyone else. But he thinks it’s funny."
It is currently filming in Canada and is scheduled for release in theaters on September 8, 2017. With a whole year left until we will see Pennywise terrorize the kids of Derry once again, only time will tell whether Bill Skarsgård has what it takes to bring the inter-dimensional predatory form to life.
Do you think Bill is the right actor to play Pennywise?