It: Chapter Two promises more blood than the already sanguine first It-eration, but that’s because the reason for the gore — the demonic pseudo-clown Pennywise — is still in Derry, Maine and worse than ever. Bill Skarsgård’s take on the monster has ruined viewers’ sleep cycles and the joy of acting for his co-stars, but apparently fans ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Speaking to EW, Skarsgård teased fans with how the villain has changed in the years since The Losers Club faced him in his underground lair. While, yes, Pennywise has been around a very, very long time and doesn’t necessarily have a character arc (or even what we’d call emotions), he still felt something new during the climax of the first film.
“He, for the first time, experiences fear himself,” Skarsgård said. “His last line, ‘Fear,’ is him experiencing it for the first time, and he’s sort of shocked and perplexed and surprised. Like, what is this?” That leads to a shift in the evil character — like a cornered animal, fear only makes him more dangerous. “It fuels hatred and anger towards the kids, who will be adults in this one, so I think there might be an even more vicious Pennywise,” said the actor.
That could be manifesting in new and exciting shapes that the demon shifts into, now that audiences understand the mechanics of the supernatural being. “You can change him or make him whackier, but he’s not really bound to continuity in the sense that a normal character would be,” said Skarsgård. “We can explore his unpredictability now that we’ve established the character for the audience. We can still sort of shock them.”
One person who’s continuing to be shocked by Pennywise is Skarsgård himself. The actor, even after finishing with the series, is still wrestling with his demon. At first he was relieved that he didn’t have to play such a creepy character, saying that he “likened it to an exorcism – him exiting my body and getting rid of the Pennywise toxins.” But it wasn’t a successful exorcism.
“I was home, done with the movie, and I started having very strange and vivid Pennywise dreams,” the actor said. “Every night, he came and visited. It was in the shape of either me dealing with him, sort of Pennywise as a separate entity of me, and then also me as Pennywise in circumstances that I didn’t appreciate,” Skarsgård said. “Like, I’m Pennywise and I’m really upset that I’m out in public and people are looking at me.” It sounds like Pennywise may always stick with his portrayer, just like the demon has stuck with Derry and, perhaps, audiences.
It: Chapter Two creeps into theaters on Sep. 6.