Which Pennywise Is Scarier: The "It" Clown from 1990 or 2019?

Whose version of Pennywise is scarier, Tim Curry or Bill Skarsgård?

Tim Curry as Pennywise in 1990's It and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in 2017's It

Clowns are notoriously frightening, but Pennywise the Dancing Clown is in another stratosphere of terror.

Ever since his debut in Stephen King's 1886 horror novel, It, Pennywise changed the way we perceive clowns. Instead of being unsettling but harmless characters seen at the circus, thanks to Pennywise clowns are now often perceived as possible bloodthirsty killers. Not only did Pennywise wreak havoc and feed on the fictional residents of Derry, Maine, he's also responsible for millions of people's nightmares in the real world.

Pennywise may have made his debut in a novel, but the clown didn't reach cult status until Tim Curry portrayed him in the 1990 television adaption of It. Curry's terrifying performance brought the monster to life and horrified people across the nation.

Now, Pennywise has been given a second life thanks to Bill Skarsgård's portrayal in both 2017's It and 2019's It: Chapter Two. Skarsgård gave Pennywise a facelift with a new voice, new smile, and better special effects. Skarsgård's performance was one of the principal reasons why It became the highest-grossing domestic horror film of all time.

Both versions of Pennywise are iconic, but the question remains: Which clown is scarier?


Tim Curry and Bill Skarsg\u00e5rd as Pennywise. Tim Curry as Pennywise and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise.

Can someone get Curry some eye drops? Pennywise may be a violent clown, but that doesn't mean he has to ignore severe eye redness. Skarsgård's blue eyes are warm and appealing, which is somehow more chilling, given what we know will happen in the film. This is one of the few times where baby blue eyes send a chill down the spine.

Winner: Skarsgård


Tim Curry and Bill Skarsg\u00e5rd as Pennywise. Tim Curry as Pennywise and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise.

Dental hygiene was clearly not a priority to either version of Pennywise. Although Curry's teeth are clearly strong and jagged enough to tear human flesh, his smile appears to have the same amount of teeth as a human. With some good toothpaste and dental floss, Curry might be able to turn his hygiene around. In contrast, Skarsgård must have killed an alligator and stole its teeth, because he has multiple fangs coming out of each gum. Getting braces might be an issue, but more fangs put Skarsgård over the edge in this category.

Winner: Skarsgård


Tim Curry and Bill Skarsg\u00e5rd as Pennywise. Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgård creepy smile in their versions of It.

The creepiest trait of a clown is its smile. Skarsgård's smile is mischievous and murderous. Pennywise's dark intentions are apparent. However, Curry's smile is friendlier and less menacing. Curry's smile suggests a circus clown, which makes him that much scarier, because people would be more inclined to interact with Curry over Skarsgård. But you're in for a rude awakening when Curry's smile turns into a death stare.

Winner: Curry

Dancing Ability



Curry elects to laugh and point. Skarsgård showcased a dance that inspired an SNL skit. Skarsgård wins by a landslide.

Winner: Skarsgård


Stephen King's IT (1990) - Georgie

IT (2017) - Opening Georgie's Death Scenes (1080p)

The most important scene in both versions of It is the opening scene wherein Georgie meets Pennywise. Both scenes establish Pennywise as an approachable but manipulative clown who has an aggressive side that can lead to outbursts and, eventually, murder. It's also during the first scene that the audience hears Pennywise for the first time. Skarsgård's voice is a slow, fervent whisper that changes pitch at a whim. Skarsgård said the voice "needed to be able to sell the unpredictability of Pennywise" in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

Curry's voice sounds like Pennywise smoked a pack of cigarettes every day for 30 years. It's less complex than Skarsgård's voice but just as effective in eliciting panic. It's a mystery why Georgie didn't run away as soon as Curry said, "Hi." Skarsgård's voice may be creepier, but Curry's voice scares the audience from the start.

Winner: Curry

In the end, Skarsgård barely defeats Curry as the scarier version of Pennywise. Regardless, if you see any version of Pennywise, run away and don't look back.

It: Chapter Two opens in theaters on September 6, 2019.

Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) lures another child into the dark.

Brooke Palmer/ Warner Bros. Entertainment

In It: Chapter One, "The Losers Club," a group of outcast children banded together to defeat It, an evil force that plagues their town of Derry, Maine every 27 years.

In It: Chapter Two, the kids are grown up and It wants a rematch.

Taking the form of an evil clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), It has been training to scare the Losers even harder. They're back in Derry and at a disadvantage, having forgotten most of their childhoods. But Skarsgard reveals that Pennywise may secretly hope the Losers kill him for good and end this cycle.

"We talked a lot about [whether] there's this urge that maybe Pennywise really, really wants to be defeated finally and forever," Skarsgard said at a press conference. "So what made it more interesting to me is he's angry, he wants revenge but there might be sort of, if you could imagine such a thing as a subconscious of Pennywise that is maybe wanting to be destroyed."

Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in It: Chapter Two In a house of mirrors you see Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) double!Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Andy Muschietti, director of both It: Chapter One and It: Chapter Two agreed.

"You definitely were drawn to the idea that he finally wants to be killed," Muschietti said. "I think it connects to the idea we discussed for the first movie that this is a character that is fighting to survive, strangely because it's a character that lives in the imagination of children. So to keep on living, he has to keep on killing. As long as he keeps killing, he will be alive."

Andy Muschietti (Right) directs the original Losers ClubBrooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Stephen King may agree with Skarsgard too. The Pennywise actor picked up prose from King's original tome that led him to this theory.

"Pennywise seems like he's afraid of the kids in the book a little bit," Skarsgard said. "His biggest fear is them coming back and defeating him or challenging him again. Like [Muschietti] said, he just wants to be left alone and be a beast of habit kind of a thing. What if he wants them back? If he wants them back, and he's enjoying it, and he's playing a mind game on all of the losers, and it's revenge and maybe some masochistic side of it?"

Back to do battle with It once again is a new cast of A-list movie stars portraying the kids grown-up versions of the from It: Chapter One.

Jessica Chastain plays Beverly, portrayed as a teenager by Sophia Lillis in the first film. As soon as viewers saw Lillis as Beverly, they suggested Chastain to play her as an adult. Muschietti, who directed Chastain in Mama, was ahead of them. Lillis was excited for Chapter Two to cast Chastain, too.

It: Chapter Two Jessica Chastain, Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan face It againBrooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

"When I first heard she was going to play me, I guess I felt relieved," Lillis said. "I thought she was perfect for the role so having her actually accept the role, I was very relieved about that. I kind of expected her to do really well."

Fans of King's novel are waiting to see Chastain in the book's infamous blood bath scene.

"I had said to Andy and [producer] Barbara [Muschietti] before we did it, I said, 'I'm happy to do it,'" Chastain said. "'The only thing that would make me super happy at the end is when I'm finished and you guys call wrap, I want you guys in white T-shirts. And I'm going to give you guys a bear hug and we're going to take a photo of it.' And it was amazing, actually. Because Andy complained so much just from having the slime on him for a little bit."

More grueling than the blood bath, Chastain faced continuity for every scene that followed.

"I didn't understand, because I thought that the blood would magically disappear because it's in her imagination," Chastain said. "So I just imagined when the scene was over, she'd be back to being normal Beverly. But Andy, because he loves to torture me, dressed me in blood for the whole end of the film."

Muschietti instructed all the young actors to write letters to their adult counterparts. Most took it seriously, but Finn Wolfhard remained in character as class clown Richie.

"His letter was very Richie," Hader said. "It was like, 'This is dumb. I'm being made to do this.'"

As an adult, Richie becomes a tad more emotional, although he never loses his sense of comic relief.

"I had to do that scene where I had to cry in the water, and it was freezing cold," Hader said. "Andy Muschietti was on a God mic and he was going, "Now Bill, I need you to cry, and then I need you to splash each other, and then I need you to go back to childhood. And then Bill, I need you to realize you cannot go back to childhood. And then I need you to cry like you've never cried.' Okay, so cry, play grab-ass in the water, cry harder. Got it."

It: Chapter Two The Losers Club returns to DerryBrooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Despite their victory in the summer of 1989, many of the Losers revert to their childhood selves as soon as they return to Derry. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) stood up to his mother as a child, but grown-up Eddie (James Ransone) returns to his passive ways.

"You see at the end of It One, I kind of transition out of the submissive Eddie thing," Grazer said. "I say to my mom, 'I know my life has been a lie.' Then I tell myself, remind myself don't go back to that place. Stand your ground, have some power. It's kind of sad that I wrote that and then he reverts back to being pathetic."

As adults, the Losers are still just as susceptible to Pennywise's tricks. Skarsgard believes Pennywise never sees the Losers as adults anyway. They're still the same kids to him.

"I don't think he perceives age the same way as we do," Skarsgard said. "Watching the movie as well, I think the adult losers are so well casted, you really feel that these are the same people that you're watching. Of course, they are stuck in their childhood traumas. They have to overcome that in order to defeat Pennywise."

It: Chapter Two is in theaters Friday, September 6.