"It was the most tiring thing I’ve ever done" – Bill Skarsgård

His father, Stellan Skarsgård is one of Sweden's main exports and his brother Alexandar Skarsgård acts in various Hollywood films. This can be an advantage but it is also hard to keep up with them. Young actor Bill Skarsgård is on his way to fame playing Stephen King's iconic clown in the latest adaptation of 'IT'.

He is 27 years old.

 

He is 1.91 m tall which also made him ideal for the role of Pennywise.

 

The public can see him also in Atomic Blonde this year.

QUESTION:  Tell me about your audition for Pennywise.  I imagine it was very different from others you’ve experienced.
BILL SKARSGÅRD:  It’s not often that you get these kinds of opportunities to audition for something that’s so out there. I’m in my mid-20s,and at that age there is usually a particular type of part that you go up for. So, I was really excited about auditioning for Pennywise, and I worked hard preparing for that, and exploring what my version of this iconic character would be. I really went for it and did it my way, which was fun. It was the kind of audition that demanded that from me. I was renting a house at the time, and there was a shed in the yard, where I would sit by myself and experiment with how Pennywise would sound, look, move, and things like that. Some of those experimentations ended up in the film.


QUESTION:  When you were finding your way into Pennywise, what did you see as your biggest challenge? What aspects did you enjoy the most?

BILL SKARSGÅRD: The biggest challenge was to come up with something that would really work for the character, and that would both scare and intrigue audiences. Most of all, I enjoyed preparing for the role, and creating, from scratch, Pennywise’s sounds,laugh, and how he moves. I didn’t want Pennywise to sound or look anything like me. So, there were a lot of things to figure out, all of which were a lot of fun.

QUESTION:  Pennywise has a rather unique sense of humor.

BILL SKARSGÅRD: I liked the idea that his sense of humor is like no one else’s. Pennywise enjoys fear and suffering, which he finds really funny.  And that’s terrifying. I didn’t want him to say corny punchlines; whenever he does something he finds humorous, the audience will think it is terrifying (laughs).

QUESTION: Pennywise looks like a very physical role. What challenges did that bring?

BILL SKARSGÅRD: Playing Pennywise was often physically exhausting. It was the most tiring thing I’ve ever done – there was a lot of noise and screaming and drooling, and I would be messing up my voice. As soon as Andy would yell cut, I’d be on the ground, breathing heavily – and the young actors playing the Losers would walk over and ask me if I was okay! (Laughs).

QUESTION: Off camera, did you spend much time with the young actors, or did you keep your distance?

BILL SKARSGÅRD: Initially, Andy wanted to keep me separated from the rest of the cast, to create tension when we eventually did begin working together. But it soon became very clear to me that these kids were total professionals, who were well aware that I was not Pennywise, but a Swedish actor dressed up as a clown. Because I was wearing all the makeup and a costume, which were great, but uncomfortable, I avoided hanging around with the kids or the crew. I was kind of isolated and tried to stay focused when I was working. Usually, I love the camaraderie on set, but on this one, it didn’t make sense for me to join in on that.


QUESTION:  How long did it take for the makeup team to transform you into Pennywise each day, and what was it like when you saw yourself in costume and full makeup for the first time?


BILL SKARSGÅRD: The first few times it took four or five hours, but we got it down to about two and a half hours. The first time I had all the makeup on, I just stared in the mirror and began making different faces and sounds, to see how it all worked together.


QUESTION:  What was it like shooting on location inToronto?  Did you ever encounter any fans during production?

BILL SKARSGÅRD: I think the only time we were out in public was when we shot at the Neibolt house. We tried to keep Pennywise’s look under wraps, so I was walking around with an umbrella and a long coat to hide my costume. At that site, there was a fan who was dressed as a clown, which was bizarre (laughs).

QUESTION:  After playing a clown – or a hyper-realized version of one – do you have any insight into why some people are frightened by them?

BILL SKARSGÅRD:  I watched some documentaries and read about clowning, and what I eventually learned was that kind of fear – it’s called coulrophobia– wasn’t really a thing until Stephen King wrote the novel IT.

InterCom
2017.09.13
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