Bill Skarsgård plays predator clown Pennywise in horror film ‘It’

The filmmakers of New Line Cinema’s horror-thriller It knew the actor cast as the predator Pennywise would have a significant impact on virtually every aspect of the film.

The enigmatically short title refers to the story’s central villain, an ancient shapeshifter that takes the form of its victims’ deepest fears and comes out of hibernation every 27 years to feed on the most vulnerable residents of Derry, Maine: the children. This time, however, seven young outcasts, who dub themselves “the Losers’ Club,” will band together to do battle with the mysterious being they call by the all-encompassing pronoun: It. But It goes by another name…a name that has become iconic in the annals of horror: Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

After an extensive process, Bill Skarsgård landed the coveted role. Director Andy Muschietti says, “I was first captivated by Bill’s performance in his audition and from then on, it was like discovering a new treat every day. He not only brought mystery and an intriguing quality to the character but had the guts to explore Pennywise’s insane theatricality. He had a madness in his look, and his body language was completely unnerving. Some of the physical demands of this role were exhausting, but I have to give it to Bill—his energy was at full all the time.”

In turn, Skarsgård says he counted on Muschietti’s guidance and appreciated the confidence his director placed in him. “Andy trusted me and I trusted him. I knew I was in good hands so I could really go for it, and he responded to what I was doing. We had a great collaboration between the two of us.”

Screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith remarks, “You can’t overstate what Bill added to this character in terms of his physicality, his attitude and his expressions.”

In fact, one expression the actor was able to bring to the role took the director by surprise. Muschiettir ecounts, “Pennywise’s wall-eyed appearance was something I had in mind from early on—I wanted him to have this crazy look where one of the eyes is going in a different direction, the opposite of cross-eyed. I mentioned this to Bill as a trait of the character, thinking it was something we would do in post-production. But he said, ‘Well, I can do that,’ and he just did it right there. And it freaked me out! You will see it in the movie; it’s pretty terrifying. One thing Bill couldn’t do was turn his blue eyes yellow—that we did have to do in post—but the wall-eyed stunt is all him.”

Apart from his physical characteristics, Skarsgård focused on creating Pennywise’s distinctive voice and maniacal laugh. For the voice, he landed on what he calls “a kind of crackling, high-pitched tone.”

Muschietti gave a great deal of thought to how he was going to reveal Pennywise onscreen. “It’s an iconic moment in the book that many people will be waiting to see,” the director acknowledges. “The scene is mesmerizing; the first appearance of Pennywise is intriguing and charismatic, but at the same time, you know there’s something wrong about him. But he’s also shrouded in a kind of magic that is quite unsettling.”

That unsettling feeling is something to which Barbara Muschietti could relate. “Clearly, the first time we see Pennywise is an incredibly important scene and, speaking for myself, it’s something that stays with you. From the first time I read the book, it was very difficult for me to look at a storm drain and not think of Pennywise lurking,” she smiles. “We wanted to create an image you will never forget.”

Opening in Philippine cinemas September 7, 2017, It is released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Entertainment Company.

Colin Farrell fuels women’s obsession in ‘The Beguiled’

Irish actor Colin Farrell disturbs the calm of an all-girls’ boarding school in Sofia Coppola’s critically acclaimed thriller The Beguiled which opens exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Greenbelt 1 & Trinoma) on September 6, 2017.

Adapted from the novel by Thomas Cullinan, The Beguiled is a sexually charged tale that unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier (Farrell). As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

The role of McBurney intrigued the actor with every emotional and/or physical twist and turn. Farrell says, “He’s somewhat narcissistic, yet he’s a good judge of people in that he reads what they need. He senses what they may find disdainful and stays away from that, going instead to their soft spot – whether it’s giving a kind word or being more reserved.”

While there is tension – both sexual and otherwise – throughout the story, Farrell gravitated to what he deems an “extraordinary” script because “it looks at how whatever innocence has been maintained in a time of war can be lost. It also explores how the more animalistic aspects of human behavior can be provoked – and pervade – even when you’re not on the front lines.

“The violence of the human heart is a timeless theme, no matter what period a story takes place in,” explains Farrell, who had long wanted to make a movie with Coppola. “I loved how contained the drama was, and there’s a bit of melodrama as well.”

“In the book, the soldier is Irish,” shares Coppola. “When I met with Colin and heard his natural Irish accent, I thought it would be great to keep that and make McBurney even more exotic for the women. And we make reference to how he is a mercenary who was paid to take another man’s place [as a Union soldier]. But I wanted him to charm, that it not be obvious that he’s bad news. From the women’s point of view, it’s, “I want to believe him.” With Colin, that comes across.

As it happens, when Coppola approached the actor for The Beguiled, he had only just completed production on another movie with Nicole Kidman. He quips, “Nicole and I are now each 50 percent of a small film repertory company. “Nicole is a joy to work with,” states Farrell. “When she comes on the set, everyone gets a little bit better, from the actors to the electricians!”

Farrell notes, “The interactions between the man and these women are all about social etiquette – until somebody steps out of their acceptable box. Then it’s no longer an emotionally curtailed environment. Having strong actresses in every role makes the whole story more meaningful, and the relationships that more complicated, bringing life to every scene.”

Farrell marvels, “I was surrounded by extraordinary talented actresses. Since for a lot of the story my character is lying down, I had the best seat in the house – watching them work!”

Colin Farrell won a Golden Globe Best Actor Award starring for writer/director Martin McDonagh in In Bruges, which was an Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay.

He was recently once again a Golden Globe nominee for his performance in a movie Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster; and he also received European Film and British Independent Film Award nominations, among other accolades. Farrell has reteamed with Lanthimos for a new movie, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which also reunites him with Nicole Kidman.

The Beguiled is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.