Why Bill Skarsgard Hasn’t Been The Same Since IT

Why Bill Skarsgard Hasn’t Been The Same Since IT


You can’t play a child-murdering clown and
expect to walk away unscathed. When you get into the mindset of an evil ancient
entity, you might wind up in some pretty dark places, like Bill Skarsgard has. Here’s why the Swedish star has never quite
been the same since It. Pennywise is, without a doubt, Skarsgard’s
most famous role to date, and for a good reason. The actor’s portrayal of a killer clown has
received near-universal praise among critics and filmgoers. One of the key reasons for all of the praise
is the physicality of the role. Regarding his part, the actor told the New
York Times, “Everything I did took 100 percent of my energy. It was by far the most exhausting character
I’ve ever done, physically and mentally.” In the Blu-Ray special feature “Pennywise
Lives!,” Skarsgard spoke about the physical considerations of playing Pennywise, saying
he often passed on using stunt doubles. “Pennywise’s physicality must be Pennywise’s
physicality, and I wanted to bring my movement and physicality in as much as I could.” Except for physically dangerous scenes, Skarsgard
insisted on always playing Pennywise himself, a decision that frequently left him utterly
exhausted on set. How does one begin to portray an inhuman shapeshifter
that literally feeds off of the fear of other beings? One way that Skarsgard went about this was
to think about how Pennywise interacted with the other characters in the film. Skarsgard told Entertainment Weekly, “I liken every character that I do to a relationship
that you’re in. Pennywise and Bill go into this sort of relationship
together, and I’m trying to figure out who he is, and I have to devote so much time and
effort to this other person – or thing, in this case – and that goes on for months.” In an interview with Collider, Skarsgard further
elaborated on his approach to playing Pennywise, telling them about how he tried to get into
Pennywise’s head to better understand the creature, saying, “It really enjoyed being the clown. He preferred to take the shape of the clown. Obviously, that opened ways of thinking. Why does he prefer being the clown? But also there is this sense of enjoyment. The entity that is ‘It’ is enjoying being
the clown. There were a lot of abstract ways to look
at it. I tried to take all of those into consideration
when I embodied the character.” While Skarsgard managed to scare audiences
around the world, his fellow actors also found themselves frequently unsettled by Pennywise
while working on the film. Because the majority of It surrounds Pennywise
with the members of the so-called Losers’ Club, many of the scenes require Skarsgard
to work directly with the child actors. To keep the children’s reactions as realistic
as possible, Skarsgard tried to stay in character whenever he was working. He explained to Interview magazine, “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.” Additionally, when he was in costume, Skarsgard
was kept completely separate from the actors playing his young victims between takes. Because of this, the children had no idea
what Pennywise would look like in each scene. Bill recalled when he realized just how effective
this separation tactic was. He told Interview, “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—. What am I doing? What is this? This is horrible.'” When preparing to play in It, Bill Skarsgard
saw his connection to Pennywise as a toxic relationship, although one that had some good
moments. As he explained to Entertainment Weekly, “It’s just like being in a very destructive
relationship. […] All your friends go, ‘You need to dump
this piece of s—, he or she is destroying your life.’ And then once you’re out of it, you see, ‘I
was so miserable.’ But I wouldn’t say I was miserable doing Pennywise
because I had a lot of fun with it, as well.” Considering the emotional toll of playing
Pennywise, it’s no surprise that Skarsgard felt relief after filming for It concluded. “Every scene I’m in in this film is just 100%
energy at all times.” He told EW that after finishing up the first
movie, he went back to his childhood home in Sweden. And one day, he was visiting with his mom,
enjoying the coffee and the company, when he suddenly realized that he was free from
Pennywise. He explained, “It was a very quick shift of just feeling
better, like, ‘Oh my god, I’m relieved that I don’t have to deal with the darkness of
the character. I likened it to an exorcism – him exiting
my body and getting rid of the Pennywise toxins.” Skarsgard’s Pennywise didn’t just scare moviegoers. Skarsgard himself was haunted by the killer
clown even after filming concluded. He told Entertainment Weekly, “I was home, done with the movie, and I started
having very strange and vivid Pennywise dreams. Every night, he came and visited.” Skarsgard further elaborated on the dreams,
saying that they generally took one of two forms. In one, he was having to deal with Pennywise
as “a separate entity.” In the other type, he found himself as Pennywise
in weird situations, like “out in public,” with people staring at him. Though the thought of Pennywise haunting someone’s
dreams is without a doubt a terrifying premise, the actor sees his nightly visits from Pennywise
in a more optimistic light. Skarsgard believes these dreams are his psyche
attempting to, quote, “let the character go.” Despite these dark dreams, Skarsgard thinks
he’s in a good place. As he explained to EW, “It was amazing. It’s a daunting but exciting thing to sort
of revisit him again. […] I’m good with it.” Despite the trouble Bill Skarsgard went through
after playing Pennywise the first time around, it was inevitable that he’d have to step back
into his clown shoes for the sequel. After spending so much time and devoting so
much emotional energy to being free of Pennywise, Skarsgard told Collider in an interview that
he didn’t have any trouble getting back in touch with the dancing clown. As he explained, “I was surprised how much of the character
was just there already. I instantly could access him again, like it
was yesterday that we wrapped the first one. It was just all there. So, the work and preparation and figuring
out the character is almost intuitive, which is pretty cool.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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