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‘It’ Director Andy Muschietti Reveals His Inspiration for Pennywise

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

One of the most challenging parts of any Stephen King adaptation is walking that fine line between childhood fears and adult terror. It is a perfect example: how do you take images meant to be frightening to 12 and 13-year-olds and adjust them for an adult audience? This is the formula that King has used to make him one of the most successful authors of all time, but stepping outside of the characters’ heads  —  and behind a movie camera  —  only ramps up the challenge of balancing tone just right. That’s why it’s been so heartening to hear It director Andy Muschietti say all the right things in pre-release interviews. He seems to really understand the source material in a way others haven’t.

Take today’s comments about Pennywise. Earlier today, The Guardian (via The Wrap) published a collection of interviews with the cast and crew of previous Stephen King adaptations. The interviews, which focus on the enduring power of King’s films and television shows, included people like Tim Curry and Kathy Bates, the former stars of It and Misery, respectively. Also included in the interviews, however, was Muschietti; here’s what the director had to say about creating a Pennywise for a new generation:

There’s a passage in the book that stuck with me forever  —  Bill Denbrough saying, “What if this monster is eating kids because that’s what we’re told monsters do?” So it might be a case of, “this character is alive as long as it’s alive in the imagination of children”. My first sketches of the clown were very childlike. I wanted to bring that look to him because he might be made of children’s imagination. It’s a dog that eats its own tail.

We’ll know for sure in a few days if It lives up to the pre-release hype, but to his credit, Muschietti has said exactly the right thing every step of the way. It’s rare to see a filmmaker so locked in with his or her source material, so Muschietti’s understanding of It has gone a long way to reassuring fans that this Stephen King adaptation will be no… well, no The Dark Tower. If you’ve found yourself pushing back on some of the It hype, maybe now’s the time to let yourself buy in a little.

It hits theaters on September 8, 2017.

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