Brit actor Will Poulter (The Maze Runner, We’re The Millers) is set to play Pennywise the Clown – aka IT – in True Detective director Cary Fukunaga’s new film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror novel…
Is the much delayed movie adaptation of Stephen King’s It about to finally enter production? That’s the indication after rumours first appearing in The Hollywood Reporter suggested British star Will Poulter, most recently seen in We’re The Millers and YA film The Maze Runner, is in negotiations to play the eponymous villain of the piece – Pennywise the Dancing Clown aka “It”.
The Guardian called it “big shoes to fill”. Indeed, Poulter will be taking over from fellow Brit Tim Curry who so brilliantly brought Pennywise to life in the much celebrated two-part TV movie from 1990.
It is believed that Poulter’s upcoming role in Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu’s The Revenant alongside Leonardo DiCaprio grabbed the producers’ attentions after they initially wanted to cast someone much older.
True Detective director Cary Fukunaga is already on board to direct the film (which will be released in two parts) and bring Stephen King’s epic tale to life for the big screen. The story spans a century while the novel itself is more than 1,000 pages in its paperback form, so the job of distilling that into two feature-length movies is going to pose a significant challenge for Fukunaga.
It focuses on a group of young teenagers in the 1950s whose friendship and resourcefulness sees them band together to battle a terrifying monster in their home town. 30 years later, having each gone their separate ways, they are brought back together when the monster begins stalking children once again. Fukunaga’s films are expected to split the story up into the children’s adventure in part 1, and the adult’s in part 2 similar to the two-part TV movie.
The Guardian reported that Stephen King has given the new film script his “seal of approval”. It remains to be seen what Fukunaga’s script, which he penned with Chase Palmer, will cut from the novel but the sheer scale of King’s story has been the stumbling block for a movie adaptation over the years. The writer-director has said his film will stay true to King’s novel but with a new look.
As with all good film adaptations of King’s novels – see my top 10 here – the best find a way of distilling the novelist’s extensive exposition and reliance on the reader’s imagination to create something singularly cinematic. Kubrick and De Palma did it masterfully with their respective films The Shining and Carrie. Key to both was a dynamic visual aesthetic (note Kubrick’s use of the imposing hotel and its isolated location, while De Palma dressed his film in blood red with a few classic camera tricks) as well as a memorable performance from their leads. In The Shining it was Jack Nicholson’s destructive caretaker, in Carrie it was Sissy Spacek’s telekinetic adolescent teen. Each stole the show.
If Poulter is cast, he’ll have his work cut out to match Tim Curry’s depiction of Pennywise. Curry was hypnotic in his performance, the bulbous whites of his eye balls seemingly peering inside your head, depositing those nightmarish fears his monstrous character called a diet. With enhanced CGI aiding Fukunaga when the monster steps out of the clown costume and into some other horrific ghoul, the director has wider scope and the technology to bring some of King’s most imaginatively horrible villains to life, but I do hope they don’t overdo the special effects and focus on what makes this character so memorable – the clown personification. If Poulter can pull it off, the new films could be a success.
Production is expected to begin this summer. The films will be released in 2016 and 2017.
Discover More: Top 10 Stephen King Adaptations