It behind the scenes

Pennywise Lives

This feature is all about Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise performance. If anything, this feature will make you appreciate how utterly normal Skarsgård is, which makes his weird, otherworldly Pennywise work all the more impressive. As the feature starts, we see footage from the set, and watch as the child actors of the film talk about how they’ve been filming for almost two months and have yet to share a scene with Skarsgård, therefore they have no idea what his Pennywise will be like. From here, the feature interviews cast and crew, including Skarsgård, talking about the performance.

“There’s something off about clowns,” says producer Barbara Muschietti. There’s a lot of concept art here, much of it drawn by director Andy Muschietti. Why Warner Brothers and New Line didn’t decide to release one of those wonderful coffee table art books all about the making of this film, I’ll never know. The concept art is right there, ready to go! Alas, it didn’t happen.

Skarsgård says even just auditioning for the part was fun, and it’s revealed that Skarsgård was the only actor who auditioned with makeup on, and that impressed producers. (Note to auditioning actors: go the extra mile.) 

Andy Muschietti talks about how Skarsgård has an amazing control of his body and face: for example, Skarsgård talks about how he’s always made the very weird Pennywise smile in real life, and had always wanted to use it in a character. Pennywise has a lazy eye in the film, and that’s actually all Skarsgård. Muschietti had included the lazy eye in his character designs, and planned to create it digitally – until Skarsgård revealed he could just naturally make his eye go lazy when needed.

Overall, this is a strong behind-the-scenes feature that reveals how much thought Skarsgård put into the role. I’ll freely admit that I had my reservations when Skarsgård was cast, but the actor completely nails the part, and clearly spent a lot of time building up his character and making his performance as memorable as possible.

It the Losers' Club

The Losers’ Club

This incredibly up-beat feature focuses on the dynamite young cast who play the Losers’ Club. “This movie is [really] a movie about friendship,” says Jeremy Ray Taylor, who plays Ben. And he’s right. What makes It work so well isn’t the jump-scares, but rather the endearing, realistic friendship that forms between the outcast members of the Losers’ Club. 

“There’s a lot of character development in that book,” says Finn Wolfhard. “And we tried to fit as much of that into the movie.” The strongest takeaway from this feature: all of these kids seem so incredibly nice, and professional, and intelligent. They truly get what the story is about. and it’s clear they have a very firm grasp on their characters. The most amusing member of the bunch is Sophia Lillis, who drolly recounts what it was like to work on a set with a bunch of 12-year-old boys all day, every day. 

Beyond the behind-the-scenes on-set footage, and the interviews, there’s a ton of footage here of the kids just acting like kids: running around, joking, talking non-stop. The friendship that developed between the cast really seems genuine, so much so that it’s almost a shame that It: Chapter 2 will focus on their characters as adults. Hopefully that sequel will find a way to bring this young cast together again for flashbacks; they’re too good together to use in only one film.

Stephen King Author of Fear

Author of Fear

This feature, at least in my humble opinion, is the best of the bunch. If, like me, you’re a big Stephen King nerd, this feature has an interview with King at his most open and most honest. It’s a lovely little in-depth chat with the prolific horror novelist in which he primarily talks about writing It, but also discusses his approach to writing as a whole.

Here, King reveals he was 30-years-old when he wrote It. “I thought I could eat the whole world, in a literary sense,” the writer says says. He reveals how he wanted to write a story about an entire city that’s haunted, and how Bangor served as the inspiration for Derry.  

King talks about drawing on stories from his own childhood, including Ben’s crush and writing the poem, in writing It. He says he was trying to articulate the things that made him afraid when he was a kid, and also he took inspiration from how his own children reacted to the world. One of the best soundbites from this feature comes when King talks about how he thinks children are more receptive, and see more of the world, than adults. “For adults, [life is] a TV screen,” the novelist says. “For kids, it’s IMAX.”

Best of all, this feature has King expounding on his surprisingly positive philosophy. “You have to have faith in your friends,” he says. “You have to believe that good is going to triumph over evil…Good doesn’t get its fair desserts…and I like to see the balance; I like to see good is strong.” It’s a charming, up-beat message from a man who has made his living writing about people dying horrible, grisly deaths at the hands of monsters. As the feature ends, King says that what he strove to do with It, and what he strives to do with all his books, is to “create characters who were fundamentally decent, by and large; you want them to live, and you want them to win.”

As I said, if you’re a King fan, this feature is the bee’s knees. But even if you’re only marginally acquainted with King’s work, this is a feature that gets to the heart of what makes his fiction so powerful. It’s my favorite part of this Blu-ray release. Long live the King.

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