Bill Skarsgård Says ‘It’ Studio Was ‘Kind of Mean’ to Release First Pennywise Photo Before Filming as It Ignited Fan Backlash and ‘So Many Hateful Opinions’

Bill Skarsgård said in an interview with Esquire magazine that the studio behind “It” perhaps didn’t make the best choice in deciding to release the first image of him as the villainous clown Pennywise before filming even got underway on the Stephen King film adaptation. Warner Bros. released the two-part film, which together earned more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

“When you are twenty-six, you don’t feel young at all, but now, looking back at it, I was a kid,” Skarsgård said about taking on the role of Pennywise. “It was fairly early on in my career to take on something that had so many eyeballs and expectations on it.”

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Skarsgård said the studio “did a thing that I felt was kind of mean” in releasing a first look photo so early during the production process. The first look image of Skarsgård as Pennywise debuted online in July 2016, more than a year before the first “It” movie opened in theaters in September 2017.

“I was so incredibly nervous to start this job, and then the internet is having so many hateful opinions on the weird, strange look of the thing,” Skarsgård said.

Some horror fans went on the attack against the “It” movie because Pennywise did not look like they expected. Skarsgård said he lost sleep over the backlash as fans made him know that “this looks stupid” and “lame.” The outrage fundamentally changed his perspective as an actor.

“You can only make this performance to please yourself,” Skarsgård said. “It unlocked something in me. And it gave me the confidence that I can take on any challenge. At least, that’s how I feel when I accept these things.”

Warner Bros. had no comment on the matter. “It” was promoted and released under different leadership at the studio.

When the first image of Skarsgård’s Pennywise debuted, he told Entertainment Weekly: “It’s important that we do something fresh and original for this one. It’s purposely not going toward that weird, greasy look.”

Fans did not necessarily agree with him at first, although his performance as Pennywise would find great acclaim and popularity when “It” released in theaters. Now Skarsgård is once again taking on a classic movie villain as he sinks his teeth into Count Orlock for Robert Eggers’ “Nosferatu” reimagining. But distributor Focus Features isn’t making the same mistake, as it’s hidden all traces of what Skarsgård’s vampire looks like for now.

“I do not think people are gonna recognize me in it,” Skarsgård told Esquire. “He’s gross…But it is very sexualized. It’s playing with a sexual fetish about the power of the monster and what that appeal has to you. Hopefully you’ll get a little bit attracted by it and disgusted by your attraction at the same time.”

“Nosferatu” opens in theaters Dec. 25. Head over to Esquire’s website to read Skarsgård’s profile in its entirety.

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