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'IT: Chapter Two' exclusive: Stephen King pays tribute to Bill Skarsgård's 'balletic' Pennywise performance

Tom Butler
Senior Editor

That Bill Skarsgård isn’t part of the awards season discussion for the year’s best actor is a crime, as his indelible performance as Pennywise in IT: Chapter Two - and its predecessor IT - is one for the ages.

And we’re not the only ones who adored his turn as the shapeshifting murderous space clown as Stephen King, who penned the original horror novel, is also a huge fan.

“It’s a tremendously physical performance,” King says in the exclusive new clip from the home entertainment release of IT: Chapter Two above.

“He works really hard. It’s just amazing, it’s balletic, it’s so good.”

Read more: Six-foot Pennywise doll announced

The new video shows Skarsgård in action as the killer clown in previously unseen behind-the-scenes footage. One brilliant moment shows the Swedish actor breaking character after director Andy Muschietti calls cut, to congratulate his young co-star Ryan Kiera Armstrong, whose character falls victim to the clown.

Nobody leaves Pennywise hanging. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

It’s a rare moment of levity from the character whose menacing presence looms over both films in the IT saga. While filming the first film, Skarsgård admitted scaring some of the younger extras on set.

“Some of them were really intrigued, but some couldn’t look at me, and some were shaking. This one kid started crying. He started to cry and the director yelled, ‘Action!’ And when they say ‘action’, I am completely in character,” the actor told Interview magazine.

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in IT: Chapter Two. (Warner Bros.)

“So some of these kids got terrified and started to cry in the middle of the take, and then I realised, ‘Holy s***. What am I doing? What is this? This is horrible’. But then we cut, and obviously I was all, ‘Hey, I’m sorry. This is pretend’.”

IT: Chapter Two picks up 27 years after the events of IT, with Pennywise returning to terrorise Derry, and the Loser’s Club, once again.

Read more: Parents complain over IT: Chapter Two billboard

It stars James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean. Reprising their roles as the young members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben.

IT: Chapter Two is available on Digital Download now. Own it on 4K UHD Steelbook, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD from 13 January.