Stephen King’s IT – Interview With Director Andrés Muschietti and Star Bill Skarsgård - Dread Central
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Stephen King’s IT – Interview With Director Andrés Muschietti and Star Bill Skarsgård

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When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, neighborhood kids band together to square off against Pennywise, an evil clown whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries. That’s the basic premise for IT, but anyone who’s familiar with the 1986 Stephen King book, or the television miniseries that followed, knows there is so much more to the story. We got the chance to sit down with the director and star of the upcoming film to ask them about what it was like to bring such an iconic villain to life.

Andrés “Andy” Muschietti is an Argentine film director, known for his 2013 horror film Mama, which was produced by Guillermo del Toro – amazingly, IT is only his second feature. The actor who plays Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård, has starred in the sci-fi thriller Allegiant and the TV series “Hemlock Grove” as a supernatural heartthrob.

Dread Central: Bill, since it is so predicated on the visual – how did you work with the cameras to create the performance of Pennywise?

Bill Skarsgård: It was an interesting thing for me because I like to be very involved. I want to be involved and I care about the movie that I’m doing. But it’s the director’s film and you go in and you do a scene and the director goes, “Oh try this.” And you do a scene and then he goes, “Okay good.” And you’re like “Alright, great.” But with this one [I wanted to see how the makeup was working with my performance]. I usually don’t feel a need to kind of go like, “Can I go and look at how that looks, ” you know? But with this one it was like I had no idea what anything looked like. I didn’t know like my face with the makeup on looks and how it translates onto the screen, so for the first time I was much more curious to see what it was that we were doing. The studio wouldn’t give me any access to the dailies, but Andy would, so he was like, “Here you go, you can look at the dailies.” So I would sit and I would actually kind of study what we already shot because I felt for this role it was important to see what I was doing and how it translated into the screen. All the things I thought about with Andy, and talked about with Andy, that translates onto the screen with all the makeup and all the things and the looks and the contacts and everything.

Andy Muschietti: So yeah, it was unique for the first time ever… even the first screen test we did as well, I was like “Oh, okay, ” you know, because it’s such a technical and important aspect of the character. And Andy, he would show me things and I could say, “Do this exact same thing, but like there.” [It was] just minor differences of how the light hits and the face and the chin. It really reads as the visual impact of the character, so it was important for me to understand that aspect. And we talked a lot about the predictable behavior of Pennywise as part of his dread and his impact as a monster. And we have here, a guy that is committed, we’re talking about – that committed and fearless. He just took the concept of “What is this monster and how we make him unpredictable.” And I think one of the greatest things he brought is embracing that concept of unpredictability, and really giving something new at every point. I was so surprised and gratified to see him doing things because he was not surprising the audience only he was surprising me at every point. And he was maybe surprising yourself at one point, and that’s why I understand that [to Bill:] you wanted to see what it looked like apart from the whole makeup thing and what I told you about staying there and there because also I’m very visual. Bill is very angular and the makeup added that extra-faceted persona. So the angles were very important.

BS: Yeah. And even for the sequel it might be different because I’m so accustomed to the character now and the look of the character. It was the whole leading up to it and the figuring it especially the beginning to kind of figure it out. The fear and being fearless is such a topical thing for the movie, right? I knew going into this. But auditioning for this movie was a really fun thing to do. Like, “Here you go, there’s an audition for Pennywise. You can do whatever you want with it.” And there’s no instruction. There’s no anything that describes why Pennywise would be either one way or the other. It could be young. It could be old. It could be a girl. It could be a guy. It could be any ethnicity. There’s nothing that limits the character. And all characters that I’ve gone up for are usually like, “Oh it’s a guy and he’s mid-20’s you know and he’s going through some things. ” The characters that you go up for are always sort of limited to who you are in a sense, but this is not. So, I was like, “This is an audition, and I can go with it and do something fun with the take, even in the audition, ” and then that was a whole process. And then when I finally booked the job, I’m like, “Holy shit, I’m doing this now!”

The first stage was like, “I’m gonna fucking get this role, ” and then like, “I got the role! Oh my God, what do I do with it? Maybe I just fooled all these people in trusting me.” So there was this fear into it, and I always felt ’cause Andy was really fighting for me throughout the casting process. He wanted me in terms of convincing all the chefs that are involved in making this. I was in Toronto leading up to production, and I was like, “How am I going to pull this off,” and you know, this fear started creeping in, of people having opinions and anticipations, and they would have expectations that I’m not going to live up to. I felt that people were almost anxious to shit on whatever I was going to do here. And then I would remind myself, “Well, Andy believes in what you’re doing here. And Barb [producer] as well. They’ve stressed how happy they are that you’re here, and they believe in you.” So that was enough for me to fuck it, “Bill, just fucking go with it.” ‘Cause I knew I can’t have fear and I can’t pull anything back here. I trust Andy, and I trust Barbara, and I’m gonna give them all I have, and I can’t resist anything with the fearless giving me everything that I have. The movie wouldn’t be able to be made I wouldn’t be able to make the character any other way.

AM: But I think it worked both ways too because, you know, when we met, we bonded really quickly. And there was a very quick development of trust, I think, because I didn’t have all the answers. We became like kindred spirits as you said one time. And it was very important to feel confident about one and the other.

DC: Was there any influence of point of reference with Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise in the 1990 miniseries?

BS: I think the way we approached it is, this is our new take on it, you know? And I think for my part, it was like, “I’m going to do a very different thing. I’m going to do my interpretation in my performance of Pennywise.” Also with Andy, with him designing the look and everything it’s just a completely different, new take on it. I do think that it’s so different that you can be into both things without them having to interfere, you know? So, Andy might be better to answer this, but even in casting me as the role, we weren’t trying to do this middle-aged thing, you know, Pennywise that Tim Curry did so well. We’re doing something different.

AM: Absolutely. Yeah. I had a sketch… I did a few sketches of the look of Pennywise, and it was already something else. It’s like a baby with Gerber baby hair, and his eyes are walleyed. Little did I know that Bill can do that! So it was already from the beginning, it was something different because I believe that there’s something in the nature of the character that I retreat from. It’s not part of the general conception of the character, but it’s a very important little detail, and it has to do with the nature of the character, and that might, because it’s very speculative, you know… with the book the point of view is from the kids, and everything they know about it is like what they think and what they speculate about. And there’s this thing that basically implies that Pennywise might be a product of children’s’ imagination. In fact, when that little bit there’s a page in the book where we jump into the mind of Pennywise and his thoughts are so simple “The turtle is stupid. I hate it. It doesn’t do anything all day.” So all those things that are very childlike, and my interpretation was that there’s a lot of Pennywise’ nature that has to do with an invention. And I wanted to translate that into the look. And also there’s a bit of a more technical effect that I wanted to bring there was that contrast between something that is cute and lovable and horrifying at the same time.

Stephen King’s IT has been rated R for “violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.

Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Nicholas Hamilton, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, and Sophia Lillis star with Bill Skarsgard, who portrays Pennywise. In addition, creature performer Javier Botet has signed on as The Leper, and Owen Teague plays Patrick Hocksetter, part of a group of bullies who torment The Losers’ Club.

Related Story: Interview: Bill Skarsgård on Becoming Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT

IT hits theaters on September 8th. Andrés Muschietti directs.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Chung-Hoon Chung (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), production designer Claude Paré (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), editor Jason Ballantine (The Great Gatsby), and costume designer Janie Bryant (“Mad Men”).

Synopsis:
When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

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Spoilers: Which Major Walking Dead Actor Might Leave the Series After This Season?

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*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***

Like many of you out there, I gave up on AMC’s The Walking Dead a long time ago. In fact, I gave up after they fired Frank Darabont following the horrendous second season.

That said, I’m not bitter towards the series, and hell, even I watched the season premiere where Negan beat the brains off Big Red and the dude from Mayhem.

Also, I’m aware there has been some controversy surrounding the “death” (yeah, right) of Chandler Rigg’s character. I have no opinion on the matter.

Speaking of character deaths, we might want to expect another this season as it looks like Lauren Cohan, aka Maggie, has taken another job on the ABC pilot “Whiskey Cavalier.”

While this doesn’t immediately mean Cohan’s Maggie character will kick the big old zombie-bucket… it pretty much means that.

Variety reports that Cohan has been in negotiations with AMC for months over her return, but she does not currently have a contract for the ninth season and will instead take the lead in the new ABC pilot.

Do you think this means Maggie is done for? Let us know below!

“The Walking Dead” returns on Sunday, February 25th.

Season 8B Synopsis:
All-out war has had a devastating impact on every person involved. The communities themselves are fractured. Alexandria has been destroyed, the people at Hilltop finds themselves pinned, and the Kingdom is shattered — half of them dead, the other half controlled by the Saviors.

At the very center — Rick, having been distracted by the conflict, has just returned home to learn that Carl, who heroically shepherded the Alexandrians to safety during Negan’s attack, has been bitten by a walker. Once his sole motivation in this otherwise stark existence, Rick is forced to deal with this reality. Carl has always been a beacon of hope, a symbol for the remaining thread of humanity — lessons that the survivors around him would be wise to take with them as this war surges onward.

But Rick isn’t the only person who’s living in peril. Aaron and Enid are in a dire situation at Oceanside — unclear if they’re in friendly territory, or if they’ve just made new enemies. Father Gabriel will do his part in attempting to smuggle Dr. Carson safely back to the Hilltop, and a pregnant Maggie is wrestling with the many moral gray areas that come with leadership during war. In a standoff with the Saviors, she must decide how to proceed with the dozens of POW lives she’s currently in control of, as well as new complications that come with being a leader.

In addition to the war, Negan continues to deal with struggles within his ranks as workers, traitors, and others’ thirst for power cause conflict at the Sanctuary. Having gifted the Saviors a major victory, Eugene’s loyalty is repeatedly tested as new obstacles present themselves.

As all-out war consumes us, the line between good and evil continues to blur. People fighting for what they believe in. Everybody working together for something bigger — to feel safe and have a world worth living in.

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Filthy and Fine! The Best Shots of Ash vs. Evil Dead

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The Evil Dead franchise is my all time favorite horror series, which evolves its mythos with each entry. Of course, the original Evil Dead has been just a straight-up horror film, but thanks to the fateful meeting of filmmaker Scott Spiegel, director Sam Raimi took the franchise into a strange comedic territory, using slapstick while still keeping the tones of sheer terror. What makes this terror stay with the franchise even with Ash’s loudmouth persona is it’s influential and inspiring camera work that Sam Raimi makes a legend behind the camera.

After years of waiting for the master of horror to return to the Evil Dead franchise, our palates were satiated with “Ash Vs Evil Dead” which continued the inspiring cinematography. With two seasons of a television show under Raimi’s watchful eye and a third season on the way, I took a look at every episode in the series to see if each director on board the project kept that eye for cinematography and shooting style. The series was notorious for it’s over the top gore and gags and I could’ve sat here and just gushed over the geysers of blood emitting from every orifice in the show, but, what I found in each episode brought more and more to the table. There are still horrifying shots to balance out the comedy of the show, but there are also amazing character moments within that foreshadow and evolve each character.

Think about it, other than Ash we’ve never had a cast of characters that survived more than two minutes but now there’s a crew of Ghostbeaters! Don’t worry as we still have randoms coming in and out that leave you to ponder, “How long can this poor Shemp live?” as they burst into blood and viscera. There are shots that revel in the grotesque, but there are also shots that revel in who our heroes are and delve into their psyches, the specialty of the Deadites! For those who’d like to follow along with the shots in the show, I’ve given you the time these shots show up if you’re watching the show on Netflix skipping the recaps.

To see the images in their full-size glory, give them a groovy little click!


S1E1: “El Jefe”
Directed By Sam Raimi
12:53
The flashlight twirling on the ground illuminating the scene as it spins on the two detectives faces gives way to one of the best sequences in the series. As Amanda’s deadite partner attacks her, the light spins furiously with the actions of the scene as she tries to retrieve her gun. When she retrieves the gun and aims it at the deadite the audience member would get a sigh of relief that she would triumph but is then tricked into terror. The flashlight spinning becomes slower and slower on both their faces as the man cries in pain pleading to his partner. The light illuminates his transformation back into a deadite horrifyingly for a slow dread filled shot. This shot and sequence show Sam still has it and sets up the series for what’s to come.



S1E2: “Bait”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
12:30
As Ash brings down the cross upon the ground the camera pans to Pablo and Kelly with a bright sunrise upon them. While the horrors of the night are over it is this sunrise the signifies the dawning of Kelley’s new life and her dialogue over this shot swears her vengeance.


S1E3: “Books From Beyond”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
2:38
Up until this point, Ruby has remained a mystery and not given us a sense of danger. Against the howl of the windmill in the background bathing in the moonlight we see her unleash the Kandarian dagger upon the already impaled deadite with a smirk on her face. This shot unravels her mystery bit by bit hauntingly as the first person besides Ash to stare down a Deadite with no fear.


S1E4: “Brujo”
Directed By David Frazee
22:40
The Brujo’s entire set up is pretty creepy with all sorts of totems that he utilizes for good but look haunting. When Kelly steps into the barn possessed by Eligos the totems come to life and react to the evil stepping before them. The best one though is the face that quickly begins to disappear bit by bit as Kelly approaches. It utters the word Mentirosa, Spanish for a liar, as she steps forth, giving way to a visually striking and terrifying warning.


S1E5: “The Host”
Directed By: David Frazee
21:26
Pablo bids farewell to his youth and tutelage under the Brujo while stepping into a new life with Ash that is more in tune with his family’s spiritual upbringing. With each totem lighting up as Pablo walks by the shots build Pablo’s feelings of loss toward a teacher as Pablo emerges a warrior that foreshadows his importance later to come as the first magical force of good in a fight that’s only ever cast spells of evil.


S1E6: “The Killer of Killers”
Directed By Michael Hurst
20:24
This is one of the most hilarious yet meaningful shots of the episode. Amanda’s boss has become a deadite ready to kill her. Ash shoots Amanda’s boss in the head, making her question the authority she had adhered to so much. Her idea of Ash as a villain changed with that charming Smile and look to Amanda in a gory pose over the lower jaw of her former boss. Ash looks to her like Uncle Sam simply saying join us! Blood and viscera flowing around him like a fountain. Dangling legs in the background as an added bonus!


S1E7: “Fire In The Hole”
Directed By Michael Hurst
19:25
Actions in combat can tell a story just like any dance. The compatibility between our heroes is evocative of Ash and Amanda’s budding romance during the entire sequence. However, it is this one masterful shot of the two working in unison dodging hellfire that tells the story of warrior’s love lit by demon fire!


S1E8: “Ashes to Ashes”
Directed By Tony Tilse
18:21
Ash can never escape the past it seems as the series goes on. He is hesitant to trust Pablo and Kelly as friends in his adventure for fear of losing them like he has lost so many others. This infamous shot from Evil Dead 2 is one of the few things that could make him question his machismo. This time he doesn’t even bring the chainsaw down on his beloved Linda but is forced to watch as an invisible chainsaw comes down upon her head forcing him to be reminded of what he did. This plays heavily into his decision making near the end of the season.



S1E9: “Bound In Flesh”
Directed By Tony Tilse
25:20
We finally get to see the book speak and beg Ash to not destroy it. This is something we’ve become accustomed to in the comic series, but have never been treated to the book itself speaking to Ash otherwise. We as the audience become the eye of the book and in true Evil Dead fashion watch, Pablo scream as the camera rushes toward him and he fuses with the book. This moment is the change in Pablo that clashes with his new direction discovered in the shot in Episode 5, which then tortures him internally until the end of season 2 where he is constantly being pulled by the necklace of the Brujo and the evil of the books spells.


S1E10: “The Dark One”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:06
A dreary moonlight shot of blues against the cabin looking ominous as Kelly stares on drenched in blood and anger. It’s a hauntingly beautiful shot. Kelly has fully embraced herself as a ghost beater and is done being tormented ready to start saving her boys. For a lot of characters, this could easily be a breaking point, but this shot affirms Dana Delorenzo as Kelly among some of the most powerful and able Final Girls on the rise.


S2E1: “Home”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
27:31
This shot is very telling of Ruby’s betrayal to evil. As her children surround and attack her, she is obscured by darkness and where she lies in terror a bright light emanates from behind her illuminating the scene as if to show her becoming a hero against evil.


S2E2: “The Morgue”
Directed By Tony Tilse
16:41
When this episode aired it was one of the most talked about and disgustingly depraved things to see. A simple Camera rig in front of Ash as he struggles to get out of a corpse, pubic hairs and dick swinging in his face. If Dead Alive wanted to take Evil Dead’s title of biggest gross-out scenes, then “Ash Vs Evil Dead” took the title back with excrement and body fluids all over our hero.


S2E3: “Last Call”
Directed By Tony Tilse
23:08
There are a ton of great shots of the evil Delta but perhaps the best one is this single frame of Lacey telling her boyfriend she loves him as he is splattered across the windshield. Blood and glass between them as they try for one last kiss against the fire and demonic lighting coming from the Delta and then splat! It’s a small touching moment that makes Lacey’s character a bit more sympathetic as the show goes on. As for her boyfriend? Well, I told you there would be plenty of Shemps to kill off.


S2E4: “DUI”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
1:45
After splattering Ash’s dad across the street, The Delta pulls up with a camera spin into the grill revealing an eye stuck in it. Ash’s one true love, his car, that’s survived everything has turned against him and killed his father just as they had reconnected. A perfect role reversal as Brock William’s severed eye is now staring down Ash through the grill of the car. No longer a window into Brock’s soul, but a sick vision of Ash’s love turned enemy.


S2E5: “Confinement”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
17:46
Flashing between light and darkness as the skin is ripped and blood is splattered gives us a horrifying look for the first time at the main antagonist of the season. Baal emerges from the flesh of humanity showing how we are all merely tools for his psychological deceptions.


S2E6: “Trapped Inside”
Directed By Mark Beesley
11:37
The moon reflects an eerie light upon Cheryl’s picture as it begins to bleed like the statue of Mary. The innocence of Ash’s sister was never saved and her soul weeps as the flesh is resurrected for evil’s bidding.


S2E7: “Delusion”
Directed By Mark Beesley
23:59
This entire episode is about breaking down Ash’s spirit and character, making him think he’s truly insane. As he’s at the breaking point he sees his friends and his love for them saves him. It’s a really simple shot that’s amplified by Bruce’s performance, but that disturbed look against the shadowy bars across his face in the dreary room give him his eureka moment where he comes down from his insanity and understands what he has to do to win.


S2E8: “Ashy Slashy”
Directed By Tony Tilse
14:13
Throughout the season the town builds up a boogeyman mythos in Ashy Slashy that we know as an audience member isn’t true but this shot brings Ashy Slashy to life. That boogeyman becomes real as the straight jacket becomes Ashy Slashy’s costume and the fire created by the chainsaw shows a side of Ash we’ve never seen. In this shot, we are convinced he had become a mindless killer.


S2E9: “Home Again”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:51
We’ve only ever heard his voice and seen his ghost save for a few shots of him discovering the Necronomicon in Evil Dead 2. Professor Knowby watches his student, Tanya, bleed out on the floor. She looks up at her mentor with horror as light swings back and forth casting shadows on his face. He is almost serial killer in nature and the shot reflects how his quest for knowledge outweighs his humanity. We see Professor Knowby and his daughter Ruby are not too dissimilar.


S2E10: “Second Coming”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
26:12
The finale brings Ash back to the cabin having to completely confront his past to change the future. With Pablo dead, because of Ash’s own follies, it is in the ashes of Ash’s dark past that Pablo is reborn, no longer tormented by the Necronomicon he takes his first breath as a new human. The evil within him gone and his life ready to begin anew.


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McKenna Grace Snags Lead in Rob Lowe’s Remake of The Bad Seed

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Okay so, evidently Rob Lowe is remaking The Bad Seed. Meh, I’m interested. But wait, evidently it will be a Lifetime original film. Urgh, interest is waning.

All jokes aside, I’m intrigued by this remake. Not only is it set to star Rob Lowe, but the man will be directing and executive producing as well.

Another interesting variation is that this film will follow Lowe’s father figure dealing with the evil child, instead of the original film’s mother character played by Nancy Kelly.

And on top of that, today we have news via Deadline that McKenna Grace (Amityville: The Awakening) has been cast as the titular bad seed, Emma, and Patty McCormack – who played the evil little girl in the original, and received an Oscar nomination for performance – will co-star as the psychiatrist who treats Emma.

Grace will next be seen in the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House from director Mike Flanagan (Hush, Gerald’s Game).

The Lifetime remake is directed and executive produced by Rob Lowe from a script by Barbara Marshall. Lowe as executive produces with Mark Wolper and Elizabeth Stephen and stars alongside Patty McCormack and McKenna Grace.

Synopsis:

Lowe plays a single father who seems to have everything under control. But when there is a terrible tragedy takes place at his daughter Emma’s (Grace) school, he is forced to question everything he thought he knew about his beloved daughter. He slowly begins to question if Emma’s exemplary behavior is just a façade and she played a role in the horrific incident. When more strange things begin to happen, he’s faced with keeping a terrible secret to protect Emma, but ultimately must stop her from striking again.

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