Stephen King‘s It has provided nightmare fuel for an entire generation. For many of us, the image of Tim Curry‘s maniacal, murderous clown Pennywise alone is enough to cause a full-blown case of the heebie-jeebies. Now, thanks to the folks at New Line Cinema, a whole new generation is about to develop a deep-seeded fear of clowns with Andy Muscietti‘s It remake.
Production is currently underway on the highly anticipated reboot of the horror franchise, with Hemlock Grove star Bill Skarsgard taking on the iconic role of Pennywise. As you probably know, the film has had a long road to production, originally developed by True Detective helmer Cary Fukunaga before he sadly departed the project over creative differences with the studio. Now, with Mama director Muscietti at the helm, folks have been wondering what tone he and the studio ultimately settled on now that they’re in production.
While at The CW TCA presentation for the upcoming series Frequency, I asked producer Dan Lin that very question and he name-dropped the breakout Netflix series Stranger Things, which has earned a huge following for its faithful reverence to the hallmarks of the early 80s. The comparison comes not just because both projects star actor Finn Wolfhard, but because as Lin describes, It will be an “homage to 80s movies”.
“I think a great analogy is actually Stranger Things, and we’re seeing it on Netflix right now. It’s very much an homage to ’80s movies, whether it’s classic Stephen King or even Spielberg . Think about Stand by Me as far as the bonding amongst the kids. But there is a really scary element in Pennywise.”
Lin continued, talking about how well the young cast has bonded in these first weeks of shooting. Wolfhard’s presence certainly bodes well in that regard considering how the young ensemble ultimately stole the show in Stranger Things.
“You catching me at a really interesting time because we’ve been shooting mostly the kids’ work and now Pennywise is starting. We clearly had a great dynamic amongst the kids. Really great chemistry is always a challenging thing with a movie like It because you’re casting kids who don’t have a ton of experience, but it ended up being really natural. Each kid, like a Goonies or Stand By Me, has a very specific personality and they’re forming the loser’s club obviously. And now finally the evil force is coming into our movie. We’ve spent a few months getting the kids to bond and now they’re going to fight this evil, scary clown.
Lin also talked about why Skarsgard was ultimately the right actor to reinvent Pennywise, praising his different spin on the character. When Fukunaga was attached, Ben Mendelsohn was his first choice before scheduling issues knocked him out of contention and Will Poulter signed on. But after Fukunaga departed, a new round of casting commenced and Skarsgard landed the role.
His build is really interesting. he’s really tall and lanky, and feels a little clown like in his movement. When he came in — we had a lot of different actors read, and when he came in he had a different spin on the character that got us really excited. You’ve had Heath Ledger doing almost a clown joker, you’ve seen obviously Tim Curry as a clown. We wanted someone who created a Pennywise character that would stand on its own and Bill came in and created this character that frankly freaked us out.
In addition to Wolfhard and Skarsgard, It stars Midnight Special breakout Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff,Chosen Jacobs, and Jeremy Ray Taylor, and is set to land in theaters September 8, 2017.