As almost all Stephen King fans – and most other internet users – are probably well aware, Bill Skarsgard has been chosen to play Pennywise in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “It,” which is currently shooting in Port Hope and will be released next year on September 7. An avid Stephen King fan with the Imgur handle Cody Ong, who also happens to be an awesome artist, recently rendered a very realistic image of what Skarsgard would look like if the director of the upcoming King flick, Andy Muschietti, decides to go the route of giving his Pennywise the same makeup job as Tim Curry’s Pennywise in the 1990 TV movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.” Skarsgard’s Pennywise look might give Stephen King fans and filmgoers an idea of what they can expect from the film.
For comparison’s sake, here is a photo of Tim Curry’s Pennywise in the 1990 version.
As you can see, Bill Skarsgard’s look as Stephen King’s infamous shapeshifting clown is much different than Curry’s. Yes, the artist does a great job of making sure the makeup the two have on remains the same, but their sharply contrasting faces give off very different vibes.
Skarsgard’s version appears as much more solemn, dark, and brooding. This is because, unlike Curry, his face is very thin, bondy, and, as Bloody Disgusting calls it, feminine. One can easily imagine him as a Boris Karloff-like “silent killer” antagonist.
Curry’s version of Pennywise was a whole different story. Curry’s face is noticeably more rounded and his facial features are a bit larger. One can tell that director Tommy Lee Wallace, either intentionally or subconsciously, wanted to find a Pennywise that could instill viewers with a feeling of terror in the same sense that Stephen King himself described “terror”: as a figure that appears threatening in some ways but non-threatening in others. YouTube content creator Vsauce does a great job of describing what we mean in a video he made on the subject.
But basically, Tim Curry’s portrayal of the Stephen King villain has become known as one of the creepiest performances in horror cinema because his facial shape — and even much of the behavior he displays in the movie — does not match that of a stereotypical villain. His cheeks are round, his mouth is big and is usually smiling, and he spends half of his screentime laughing. It adds to the jovial appearance that the clown makeup creates, and the cognitive dissonance that an inviting face and Pennywise’s murderous actions created was horrific. It’s probably what makes clowns scary to many in the first place, and may very well be why Stephen King chose a clown to be the antagonist’s main form when writing the novel.
In any case, Skarsgard wearing the Pennywise makeup originally meant for Tim Curry clearly looks more evil than Curry’s Pennywise, something that would likely detract from that horrifying contrast between looks and action and, because of that, take away from the creepiness Stephen King meant for the character.
The fact that Muschietti and his crew chose someone who looks so stoic and quietly threatening to play Stephen King’s Pennywise strongly suggests that the new Pennywise will take on a tone that is more classically horror-based than the Tim Curry rendition, which went for more terror-based scares. To understand the difference, watch the Vsauce video embedded above.
Maybe it is a better idea, then, for Bill Skarsgard to go in a completely different direction, which includes a drastically changed makeup job, with his take on Pennywise. After all, the art by Cody Ong is totally hypothetical, and Skarsgard can really do anything he wants to in bringing new meaning to Stephen King’s landmark character.
As Steve Barton, founder of internet horror hub Dread Central, argues in an interview with Chris Eggertsen of Hitfix, Skarsgard can hardly equal Curry’s performance if he just goes for more of the same.
What do you think? Will Skarsgard do justice to Stephen King’s horror masterpiece with his Pennywise? Make yourself heard in the comments below!
[Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images]