MVPs of Horror: 'It' director Andy Muschietti on engineering Pennywise for maximum scares

Will Lerner
Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

When Yahoo Entertainment welcomed It director Andy Muschietti (along with his sister and producing partner, Barbara Muschietti) into our studios, we asked the Argentinian-born filmmaker about how he created everyone’s favorite sadistic clown, Pennywise, so chillingly portrayed by actor Bill Skarsgård. Muschietti told us that he locked onto his vision of the terrifying creature early in It‘s pre-production period, as he sought to bring Stephen King‘s novel to life.

“There was a bit in the book that stuck to me very much,” Muschietti said. “It’s a part where Bill Denbrough is talking. He says, ‘What if this monster is eating children because we’re told that’s what monsters do?’ So it just kindles your thoughts about this being the work of childish minds. And I wanted to bring that into the nature and look of the creature. So my first sketches of the clown were pretty childlike.”

Indeed, the filmmaker teased audiences prior to the release of It with some of his sketches:

“I’m an artist,” he continued. “I’ve been doing storyboards for a long, long time. So for me, it’s really easy to communicate with crew and the team with drawings. My first drawing was, basically, this baby-faced clown with eyes that look in different directions because there’s strange twisted balance between someone that looks innocent and fun and cute, but there’s something wrong about him. If you see that initial sketch and compare it with Bill — they look like the same guy.”

Skarsgård made it even easier for Muschietti to bring the drawings to life. “I showed [Bill] the sketch and said, ‘We’re going to [visual effects] on your eyes. And he said, ‘No. I can do it myself.’ He did it and his eyes were completely [misaligned]. It was very scary.”

Watch: Andy Muschietti drops some pretty big hints about the upcoming sequel to It:

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