The Actor Who Plays 'It' Is So Gorgeous Your Nightmares Will Turn Into Fantasies

Warner Bros.

People always recommend various ways to sleep better at night. You can stop looking at bright screens before you turn in (psshh, sure...), have a nice glass of warm milk, or even meditate. But we think you should just look at IRL pictures of actors who play terrifying characters on screen. Case in point: Bill Skarsgard. The 2017 Pennywise from It, in real life, is not only the furthest thing from a creepy clown, he's drop dead (in a non-scary way) gorgeous.

You might recognize the 27-year-old Swedish actor without his makeup on, considering he's appeared movies like Atomic Blonde and The Divergent Series: Allegiant. Skarsgard also had a role in Netflix's horror series Hemlock Grove. Another reason he looks familiar? His entire family is basically filled with noteworthy actors. His father is actor Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting, Avengers: Age of Ultron) and his brothers are Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, Big Little Lies), Gustaf Skarsgard (Vikings), and Valter Skarsgard (Black Lake). Good genes, indeed.

If his version of Pennywise already has you swearing off the sight of clowns forever, let's take a look at him without that pesky costume.

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Ah, that's better.

Transforming into one of Stephen King's most iconic creations has got to put the pressure on, and the casting process for one of horror's classic clowns is serious business. British actor Will Poulter, who you may know from The Revenant or We're the Millers, was initially attached to the role before dropping out. Director Andres Muschietti's quest to find the perfect Pennywise the Dancing Clown wasn't easy, but Skarsgard stood out. He told CinemaBlend, "Pennywise was a tough one. But the moment that I saw Bill, I got immediately intrigued by him. And I said, 'Maybe this guy...'" He also revealed to them that they planned to "deviate" the character's eyes, but Skarsgard was up for the task -- no CGI necessary. "He was here in the morning and he was doing the trick. It's crazy. What are the chances the guy that you picked for the role could do it?"


And Bill has big clown shoes to fill. Tim Curry originated the role in the 1990 miniseries adaptation to hair-raising perfection, so it's hard to not think of that portrayal when picturing the monstrous concept come to life. So many children of the '80s and the '90s probably have him to thank when it comes to their recurring nightmares. But Bill's take is a different one and will give this generation a new kind of Pennywise to stress about. "Skarsgard's Pennywise has a far more sinister edge, marked by piercing yellow eyes and contorted movements. The two Pennywises also have different personalities," Muschietti explained at SXSW.

“I did want it feel like he's having fun. Pennywise enjoys scaring kids and eating them — when people are most scared, that's when he's happiest," Skarsgard told The Los Angeles Times.

And if you have Stephen King's blessing, you have something to smile about. The good reviews don't hurt, either. The king of horror recently spoke with Yahoo! Movies about the two variations, although he doesn't play favorites:

Pennywise is scary in the book, he needed to be scary in that miniseries, and he needs to be scary in the movie. And he is. They're both good. I wouldn't pick one above the other. I would just say that Andy [Muschietti] had more to work with in terms of modern technology and, for all I know, budget too. I'm sure he must have had more; I can't remember what the miniseries cost — at one time I knew — but it wasn't that much. It was a TV thing.

Bill Skarsgard already seems like he's living up to a lot of fan expectations and we're excited to see more of him. Especially without all that horrifying makeup.