The film, based on Stephen King’s 1986 book about an evil entity that preys on children in Derry, Maine, every three decades, is scheduled to be released on Sept. 8, 2017.
Imagine this staring at you from inside the concrete chamber of a storm drain.
We’ve already gotten a close-up of Pennywise the Clown from the new film version of Stephen King’s It (out Sept. 8, 2017), but here we step back for a fuller view of the creature that likes to take the form of a leering, sinister clown.
Bill Skarsgård is playing the ageless, supernatural beast who feeds on the fears of children, and it’s clear director Andy Muschietti (Mama) is steering away from the modern, baggy-suited, rainbow-hued clown for something a bit more… archaic.
For that, the filmmaker relied on Emmy-winning costume designer Janie Bryant (Deadwood, Mad Men) who crafted a form-fitting suit that draws upon a number of bygone times – among them Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, and Victorian eras.
Pennywise, after all, is infinite.
“The costume definitely incorporates all these otherworldly past lives, if you will,” Bryant says. “He is definitely a clown from a different time.”
There’s a classic Harlequin quality to the elegant red lines, drawing up his cheeks like fangs to bisect his eyes. In this new image, we can more clearly see the fissures in the caked-on makeup atop his domed brow, resembling the sutures in the plates of a skull.
We even get a hint of his yellow, buck-toothed smile – or might those be something sharper?
His neck is frilled by a thick, puffy collar, like a ruff from the late 16th century, and here’s where we zoom in and venture into geek-out territory for costume enthusiasts. Every part of the costume is meant to suggest something both ancient and disturbed.
“That pleating is actually Fortuny pleating, which gives it almost a crepe-like effect,” Bryant says. “It’s a different technique than what the Elizabethans would do. It’s more organic, it’s more sheer. It has a whimsical, floppy quality to it. It’s not a direct translation of a ruff or a whisk, which were two of the collars popular during the Elizabethan period.”
For Pennywise, there’s no need to stay faithful to any era’s fashions. He is a manifestation of what an immortal, supernatural being thinksof as a clown, amalgamating various styles it finds appealing. …Or maybe he’s just thinking of a toy that once belonged to a child he devoured.
“There is almost a doll-like quality to the costume,” Bryant says. “The pants being short, the high waistline of the jacket, and the fit of the costume is a very important element. It gives the character a child-like quality.” Even the gloves are so tight and seamless they make his hands look like porcelain.
While this isn’t the bright and cheery Pennywise, Bryant’s version of the character prefers to camouflage himself and strike rather than lure children with lively plumage.
“It makes him almost like a shadow,” she says.