There will be a few significant alterations to Stephen King’s It in its upcoming, Andrés Muschietti-directed adaptation—most notably, an update from the 1950s to the Roaring Late 1980s, when kids having group sex in the sewer was just part of the wild, anything-goes era of the George H.W. Bush administration. But no matter what other changes might be made, there is one unwavering truism: You’ve got to have a scary clown in your scary clown movie, otherwise what are people going to be scared of? The domestic violence lurking behind the placid veneer of small-town communities? You can’t put that on a poster!
No, you have to put a big scary clown on one, which is why Entertainment Weekly has released this first glimpse of 25-year-old star Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, It’s scary clown, in his scary clown make-up. It’s an image that will definitely make you say, “Hey, who’s this clown?” before scrolling back up to read this explanatory text that I’m not writing for my fucking health here. Jesus Christ.
As Skarsgard explains, the new Pennywise eschews the “weird, greasy look” reminiscent of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight—an assertion that’s borne out by a dry, scaly complexion that suggests Pennywise is suffering his own horror of psoriasis. It also avoids the big-nosed, hydrocephalic Bozo look of Tim Curry’s version in the 1990 TV movie, although he’s still got those same yellow eyes—and the ruffled collar. After all, nothing diminishes the scariness of a supernatural manifestation of your deeper fears faster than a visible clavicle. EW further calls this look “elegant, precise—even alluring,” because we all have space to fill.
What else can we see? The barest hint of sinisterly plucked eyebrows. Some terrifyingly, meticulously applied red streaks arcing over the cheeks, suggesting devil’s horns or delicious licorice. Plump, kissable clown lips—oh so kissable. Anyway, we’ll just have to wait until the first trailer to see whether they also remembered to give him scary clown hair and scary clown clothes, or absolutely bricked it with a sensible side-part and some Jos A. Bank casualwear. But until then, let’s just assume that he’s got all the scary clown stuff.