Bill Skarsgård Lost Sleep Over The ‘Hateful’ Pennywise Backlash Leading Up To ‘It’

Many people joke (ha!) about their joker origin story— you know, the one thing that pushes you so over the edge that you begin to literally clown yourself before slowly going mad, a la The Joker. But Bill Skarsgård has his own Joker moment that also happened to involve a separate killer clown, our good friend Pennywise.

Skarsgård starred in 2017’s horror blockbuster IT, where he played the titular demonic entity. But before filming even began, the Swedish actor was quickly discouraged. Skarsgård had been excited for the role, and even drove around L.A. in clown makeup to perfect his look. But the initial reactions to his Pennywise left him confused.

He told Esquire, “They did a thing that I felt was kind of mean,” he said. To increase the hype, the studio released a photo of Skarsgård in full makeup, but it backfired. “I was so incredibly nervous to start this job, and then the Internet is having so many hateful opinions on the weird, strange look of the thing,” he said. Fans were not on board yet.

The actor lost sleep over the insults, with people on social media calling his look “lame” and “stupid,” but it became his own Joker origin story after he realized he could use the backlash as inspiration. “You can only make this performance to please yourself,” he said, adding, “It unlocked something in me,” he admits. “And it gave me the confidence that I can take on any challenge. At least, that’s how I feel when I accept these things.” Skarsgård then went on to play the creepiest Pennywise since the last Pennywise, Tim Curry. He did what he had to do.

Clearly the ordeal did not stop Skarsgård from portraying creepy dudes as he has a full schedule of weirdos on his resume for 2024, including Nosferatu. But the most surprising part of it all? Skarsgård doesn’t even like scary movies. “I’m not a huge horror buff,” he admitted to the mag. But he already has his Joker arc mapped out, so he might as well just embrace it!

(Via Esquire)