True Detective director Cary Fukunaga is remaking the cult horror classic It, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and has tapped an unexpected choice to play the villainous clown so memorably portrayed by Tim Curry. We’re the Millers star Will Poulter is completely rehauling his career to become a serious actor, and according to an exclusive from Variety he nailed his audition for the part of the homicidal clown Pennywise to the point that Fukunaga couldn’t say no even though the role is typically thought of as being played by an older actor.
Fukunaga is planning to make two films of the classic Stephen King novel about an evil force disguised as a clown that haunts a group of children in Maine over a generation. The original movie, which is responsible for making generations of kids afraid of clowns, starred renown character actor Tim Curry as Pennywise. That 1991 film has a lot of notoriety, but it was a TV movie and is more campy than quality. While True Detective’s first season wouldn’t be characterized as horror, it certainly had its share of suspenseful moments and scary characters. The version of It from highly praised director Fukunaga will likely be both terrifying and good.
Pennywise is one of the scariest villains pop culture has ever spawned. He’s a demonic presence that takes on the form of a clown and terrorizes the youth of the small town of Derry, Maine every 27 years. Aside from just being a freaky clown, he also has the ability to see his victims’s worst fears in order to kill them in the most personally dreadful way possible. In the first film, the children of the town team up to destroy him while having to face their own fears.
Fukunaga has said he wants his two films to be as loyal to the 900 page novel as possible, which is likely why there will be two movies. One film will focus on the children of the town as kids, and the other will follow the characters as adults when they return to Derry to contend with the evil force again. The director said that he will be true to the story while updating the original movie’s campy look. Fukunaga adapted the screenplay himself along with Chase Palmer.
Those familiar with Poulter’s biggest movie We’re the Millers might raise an eyebrow in response to casting him as a villain, but the young actor has set his sights on much more serious roles. Variety’s sources said that Poulter’s audition was so impressive that Fukunaga chose him over older actors including Ben Mendelsohn and Mark Rylance. Poulter recently worked on the upcoming Alejandro González Iñárritu film The Revenant alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, playing a robber who leaves DiCaprio’s character for dead after being mauled by a bear. The insiders who have seen early footage of The Revenant and spoke to Variety said that Poulter will be perfect for playing the evil clown.
When the It remake was first announced, lots started speculating about who would play Pennywise and this casting choice is certainly unexpected since we haven’t gotten to see Poulter’s serious side yet. This project is shaping up to be much scarier and of higher quality than the TV movie of the early 1990s. If Fukunaga makes Pennywise as frightening as the villains in True Detective, then he’ll give everyone who watches his remake of It a case of coulrophobia.
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