Stephen King has written an absurd amount of memorably terrifying stories. The Shining, Cujo, Carrie, and more all bear his name. But perhaps none has remained in the collective spooky conscience as It, his story of a shape-shifting being that preys on the fears of kids in suburban Maine by taking the form of a clown.
It was first adapted into a 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry as the ridiculously scary supernatural circus performer Pennywise, and it’s getting a new update courtesy of Mama filmmaker Andres Muschietti with actor Bill Skarsgård in the role.
Entertainment Weekly has the first look at the updated nightmare-inducing clown.
It’s a fairly straightforward image of an evil clown, but just imagine this dude haunting your dreams and showing beside your bed at night before dragging you down into a storm drain. The cracked skin, those menacing yellow eyes, and that devious grin all give us the willies, or, to be more specific, maybe we just have coulrophobia.
To be fair, not everybody has a fear of clowns. It reminds us of a great quote by actor John C. Reilly’s appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast where he said:
Some jerk decided that clowns were scary, and turned it into this horror movie trope, and, in fact, clowns are like priests. People who are really committed to clowning and are good at it, it’s like a monastic kind of life where you’re really, it’s like a vocation, you’re giving stuff over to this higher calling.
That “jerk” is Stephen King.
The remake has spent years in development, and most recently was going to be adapted into a two-part film by True Detective director Cary Fukunaga with actor Will Poulter in the Pennywise role before that version went under. Muschetti’s version is currently filming, and it’s obvious Warner Bros. wanted to post an official look at Skarsgård before blurry paparazzi photos spoiled the terror.
EW’s exclusive includes some thoughts from Skarsgård on what it’s like to play such an iconic character that has scared the shit out of a whole mess of people for a long time:
It’s such an extreme character. Inhumane. It’s beyond even a sociopath, because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings it creates.
It truly enjoys the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt. What’s funny to this evil entity might not be funny to everyone else. But he thinks it’s funny.
Skarsgård also says his performance and look is intentionally different from Curry’s iteration of the character:
Tim Curry’s performance was truly great, but it’s important for me to do something different because of that. I’ll never be able to make a Tim Curry performance as good as Tim Curry.
It’s important that we do something fresh and original for this one. It’s purposely not going toward that weird, greasy look.
Take a look at the trailer from the original:
Between this, the currently-filming adaptation of The Dark Tower, and the homage-heavy Netflix show Stranger Things, it’s a great time to be a Stephen King fan.
It hits theaters September 8, 2017