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‘IT’ Filmmakers Considered Casting Tilda Swinton as Pennywise

Netflix
Netflix

From an androgynous angel hellbent on revenge to the self-loathing mother of a sociopath, a despicable dictator, the CEO of a pharmachemical corporation and pretty much everything in between — there’s almost literally nothing that Tilda Swinton cannot do. So when the filmmakers behind IT revealed that they gave serious thought to casting one of the most chameleonic and creatively-minded actors of our time in the role of a sinister supernatural clown, it wasn’t exactly surprising.

Following yesterday’s debut of the latest trailer for IT, several sites ran reports from a recent set visit where director Andres Muschietti and his partner / producer Barbara Muschietti offered up some interesting details about their new Stephen King adaptation. But perhaps the most intriguing intel came from Barbara (via Arrow in the Head), who revealed that the duo auditioned a fairly diverse group of actors for the role of Pennywise, the evil clown:

We auditioned literally hundreds of potential Bob Grays or Pennywises and it was an amazing process. We got to audition people that don’t audition anymore and a huge gamut of talent; women, younger age, older age, we really went through the spectrum of actors.

One of the actors under serious consideration was Tilda Swinton. Unfortunately, according to Barbara Muschietti, Swinton’s schedule got in the way and she never even had a chance to audition:

[Tilda Swinton] wasn’t available. No, no I swear to god. She was not. We had a slot to shoot the movie and she wasn’t available so she didn’t even audition. But of course, we all thought about it.

Although…would you really need Tilda Swinton to audition for anything? Name a role, and she could totally nail it, including an evil supernatural entity that disguises itself as a scary clown and terrorizes children. That role ultimately went to Bill Skarsgard, whose creep-factor is undeniably effective in the trailers. But it’s easy to imagine the sort of demented energy Tilda Swinton would’ve brought to the role (and easier still to think of the inevitable sexist backlash) if only she had the time.

IT hits theaters on September 8.

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