Skarsgard takes on clown villain Pennywise

Bill Skarsgard could hear the crew whispering excitedly when he first arrived on the set of his new horror film It, based on the classic novel by Stephen King.


“They were like, ‘Oh, Pennywise is on set today,'” the lanky, 191cm tall, Swedish-born actor told AAP.

“I thought, ‘That was cool. They’re super excited’.”

The crew and other cast, mostly boys, had been shooting for one and a half months in Canada, but Skarsgard, purposely, had stayed away.

Skarsgard plays Pennywise, the sadistic, blood-thirsty, supernatural clown who intermittently appears from the sewers and abducts children in the small town of Derry, Maine.

The actor did not want to build rapport with the young cast.

His first scene was with 14-year-old Jack Grazer and it required Skarsgard, in his full terrifying clown prosthetics, make-up and costume, to crawl out of a fridge.

Pennywise’s mouth is dripping with drool.

“I didn’t want to hold anything back and I’m mocking him and he’s crying,” Skarsgard recalled.

“He has a hard time breathing so I’m mocking that and I’m in his face and drooling over him and smelling him.

“I’m so into his face.

“Then they said ‘cut’.

“I was like ‘Oh no! Are you OK Jack?’.

“I thought I traumatised him.”

Skarsgard is great in the scene, but young Grazer was also impressive.

Grazer instantly stopped his tears and then gave Skarsgard a true Hollywood moment.

“Jack goes, ‘I love what you’re doing man. I love what you’re doing’,” Skarsgard laughs.

“It was the funniest thing ever.

“They are all little professional actors.”

King first published It in 1986 and Tim Curry played Pennywise in 1990’s It TV mini-series.

King didn’t push to be involved in the new film, but director Andy Muschietti and the screenwriters and producers showed the author drafts of the script, audition tapes and screened the film for him.

To their relief King’s reaction was positive.

Skarsgard, whose previous roles include Allegiant, Atomic Blonde and Hemlock Grove, comes from a family of actors headed by his father Stellan and including brothers Alexander, Gustaf and Valter.

He joked if his Hollywood career dried up he could now hire himself out as a clown at kids’ birthday parties.

“Maybe that will be my go-to gig,” he laughed.

It opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday (September 7)