The 2017 reboot of IT had many fans of the Stephen King book and miniseries concerned for the integrity of the story. The character of Pennywise would be one of the horror creator's finest works as the children-murdering clown unleashed hell on The Losers Club well into their adult years.
As the fresh adaptation prepares for a September 8 premiere in theaters across the United States, director Andreas Muschietti sat down for an interview with Variety. Rising to fame with his 2013 horror feature Mama alongside executive producer Guillermo del Toro, the Argentine would pull no punches over his preference to cast Bill Skarsgard over Tim Curry as he derided the soft 1990 series that was revered as a classic for the genre.
IT 2 Will Have Adult Losers Looking Back ... and Behind
Attempting to bring a new portrayal to a well known character, how did the filmmaker go about mapping this picture?
"You have to start simple," he replied. "You track the big emotional tentpole events of the movie. We tried to fill it with as much character and story as we could in a two-hour movie."
While the children are the central hub of the story, it is Pennywise who makes or breaks the film. For Muschietti's tastes, he needed an actor who could charm but terrify in the same moment.
"I wanted to stay true to the essence of the character. I knew that I didn’t want to go the road of Tim Curry. Bill Skarsgard caught my attention. The character has a childish and sweet demeanor, but there’s something very off about him. Bill has that balance in him. He can be sweet and cute, but he can be pretty disturbing."
Prior to any box office reception, the director explained that an IT 2 is already in the pipeline as his initial feature will only act as the prelude.
"We are doing that," he said of the sequel. "We’ll probably have a script for the second part in January. Ideally, we would start prep in March. Part one is only about the kids. Part two is about these characters 30 years later as adults, with flashbacks to 1989 when they were kids."
Muschietti: Book Fans Will Love My Movie, Not The 1990 Version
Speaking in a very frank and honest manner, Muschietti disregarded the merits of the 1990 two night miniseries special by Warner Brothers, decrying their mistreatment of the narrative by King.
"There are naysayers. Those tend to be the people who are fans of the miniseries rather than the fans of the book. People who read the book and got the book, they’re not crazy about the miniseries. It was a very watered-down version. It didn’t contain the darkness that the book had. They couldn’t make something for TV about a clown who eats children."
What would make the director's day was a full endorsement by the creator himself, as Muschietti recalled his interactions with King after posters and trailers of his movie were released.
"He tweeted about it and said the movie exceeded his expectations. After that we started a private email exchange because I was so excited about his response. My first letter was me asking for indulgence and forgiveness for having changed things. The story is the same, but there are changes in the things the kids are scared of. In the book they’re children in the ’50s, so the incarnations of the monsters are mainly from movies, so it’s Wolf Man, The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula. I had a different approach. I wanted to bring out deeper fears, based not only on movie monsters but on childhood traumas."