There is something about clowns that entertains children and disturbs adults. Hollywood is well aware of this curious dichotomy, and have used it to great effect for characters like Batman’s arch-enemy Joker, and the supernatural creature from Stephen King’s IT novel that takes the shape of Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Sophia Lillis, who played the role of young Beverly Marsh in the 2017 movie adaptation of It, revealed that her experiences on that project ended up ruining clowns for her.
“Well, I can’t think about clowns and then not think about, you know, Pennywise cause that was a good section of my life. I mean, I was going into high school. Yeah, I don’t know if it ruined clowns for me. Maybe it did, I think that’s what happened. It kind of ruined clowns for me.”
The main antagonist in IT and sequel IT Chapter Two is a creature from a distant world that has been living on Earth for centuries, hibernating for long periods of time in between short bursts of feeding frenzies. The creature delights in eating children that have been “seasoned” with a high dose of fear.
To that end, the creature uses its shapeshifting abilities to present a scary appearance in front of children that takes the form of their worst nightmares. One such form is the murderous clown Pennywise. While hunting Beverly, Pennywise also manipulated her fear of her father and her feelings of being trapped in the house with him. This involved copious amounts of blood coming out of the sink in her home and spraying her. For Sophia Lillis, acting in that scene was made much easier by the actual buckets of blood involved.
“That’s why the scenes stood out to me… just everything your character is going through is ramped up and personified. And she has her first real encounter with Pennywise. So you’re doing your scene for the first time, and you’ve got blood coming out of the sink… like how do you approach that?! Then you’re thinking ‘Okay, my dad can’t see this blood! I have to act like he should be seeing this blood! I have it all over me and I’ve got to be scared to death because there’s something in the sink!… Acting’s hard, but when you’re there in that scene and you actually see the whole room covered in blood, you have the materials you need to be scared. So it wasn’t that hard being scared.”
Fortunately, the sequel to IT that was released in 2019 provided a somewhat happy ending for Beverly and the rest of her friends in the Loser’s Club. Pennywise was finally defeated for good, and the now-grown-up members of the club were able to put their painful childhood memories behind them. Although Bill Skarsgård earned great critical acclaim for his role as Pennywise in the films, it seems Lillis is glad to put the frightening scenes she shared with him in It behind her. This news originated at IMDB.
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