'IT''s Bill Skarsgård Reveals the Secret Behind Pennywise's Creepy Voice


For a number of reasons, Bill Skarsgård was a natural fit to play the demonic clown Pennywise in the newest adaption of Stephen King's IT. For starters, he's managed to transform the red-nosed monster into a nascent sex symbol. But while some of Pennywise's more sinister traits were almost too easy for Skarsgård to master, the Swede recently revealed that it took a lot of determination and well, burping, to develop the clown's bone-chilling voice. 

“The voice for me sort of started out with a laugh,” he told Variety's Playback podcast. “I was playing around with a laugh, but on the verge of a panic attack and crying at the same time. When I started doing it just by myself, I started to creep myself out.”

"It doesn't sound like a real laugh which goes into the aspect of the character not being human or a perfect clown."

All of the maniacal laughter was made easier by Skarsgård's thirst for soda water, which the actor said he swilled to give his laugh a grittier quality. In reality, though, it made him belch excessively and delivered a stomach ache. (Such is the life of fearless method actor.)

As playing a murderous clown in a convincing manner is no easy feat, Skarsgård has been consistently asked how he prepared for the role. Just as Pennwise's laugh has been a point of conjecture for people who've seen the film, so too has the clown's deranged smile. Although it seems like the eerie grin would take a year's worth of training at Juilliard to master, Skarsgård recently revealed that he's always maintained the ability to smile like a complete psychopath

Suffice it say that some people are born with a clown gene, and Skarsgård is certainly one of them. 

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster