Pennywise Actor Drove to 'IT' Audition in Clown Makeup, Cackling at Pedestrians

In both figurative and literal ways, actor Bill Skarsgard had big shoes to fill when it came to portraying Pennywise the Dancing Clown in this year's adaptation of Stephen King's IT. The story was previously adapted into a miniseries in 1990, with Tim Curry's portrayal of the character being one of cinema's most memorable creepy clowns. To ensure he got the part, the actor sported clown makeup on his drive to the audition, practicing his sinister cackle the whole way, much to the dismay of passing pedestrians.

“Pennywise was so extreme, and so far away from anything I’ve ever done," the actor told Entertainment Weekly. "For the callback, director Andy Muschietti asked for people to wear simple whiteface. Not a clown nose, but a red-painted nose and a clown smile. I thought this was a great idea – up until the point where I realize I don’t know how to put on makeup. That’s a skill I don’t have."

Luckily, the actor's girlfriend was able to lend some assistance.

“I ended up asking my girlfriend to put some makeup on that morning, and then I get into the car and had to drive across L.A. in this clown makeup," Skarsgard recalled. "There was something kind of humiliating and absurd about the whole thing. I’m an actor auditioning in Hollywood, and I’m driving with a clownface on. It’s kind of a metaphor for what the profession of acting feels like."

“Andy had also asked to explore clown laughter, so I’m sitting in the car and I feel ridiculous, but I thought I might as well absorb it and use it," the actor confessed. "So I just started to laugh like crazy in the car, as I’m just bearing down on pedestrians."

Fans didn't get to see his final performance until this past September, but people near the audition got a slight taste of the performance.

“The audition was not on a studio lot, so I had to park and walk for a few blocks with my clownface on," Skarsgard detailed. "I pretty much just stayed in character through the whole thing. It was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever done. It sums up my approach to this character."


You can see the actor's performance of Pennywise when the film hits Blu-ray on January 9, 2018. Skarsgard will be returning for the film's sequel, which will land in theaters on September 6, 2019.

[H/T Entertainment Weekly]