There are a lot of Stephen King projects on the way, but the one pretty much guaranteed to scare all of us is the first of a two-part adaptation of the novel It. The film focuses on a group of kids who are terrorized by an evil entity that takes the form of the thing that someone is most afraid of, in this case the scary clown Pennywise, who is brought to terrifying life by Bill Skarsgård. The original novel was published in 1986, and was adapted as a 1991 TV mini-series starring Tim Curry.
Having seen the film (a couple of times, as it turns out), King gave the following interview to share his feelings on It.
Life & Style: Now that you’ve seen the finished version of It, what’s your feeling about it?
Stephen King: I had hopes, but I was not prepared for how good it really is. It’s something that’s different and at the same time it’s something that audiences are going to relate to, and they’re going to like the characters because, to me, it’s all about character. If you like the characters, you care and then the scares generally work. I’m sure my fans will enjoy the movie. I think they’re going to really enjoy the movie. And I think that some of them will go back two or three times to actually savor the thing. I went back and saw it a second time and felt that I was seeing things the second time through that I’d missed the first time.
Life & Style: When you were writing the novel, what was your inspiration? What triggered the idea?
Stephen King: When I wrote the book, I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve written some books and have gotten this reputation as a horror novelist, so It will be my final exam. And I’ll bring back all the monsters that I remember from my childhood, the ones that I grew up with, like Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Thing From Beyond The Grave, because the entity that is Pennywise focuses on whatever that particular child fears the most. I was thinking about the universal monsters, and the ones that scared kids in the 50’s. Well they’ve moved the timeframe to the 80’s. To me that isn’t the important thing. The important thing is they kept the core idea that Pennywise gets to these kids by finding out what they’re afraid of and being that thing.
One of the things that I wanted to do in the novel, in all of my novels, is to create characters who are fundamentally decent by and large, and that way you don’t want them to be spam in a cabin. You don’t want them wiped out. You want them to live and you want them to win. And I think that that translates to the film. That’s one of the reasons I really like this movie.
Life & Style: Any final thoughts on the film version?
Stephen King: Let me just say that I had hopes, strong hopes, for the movie, because I knew director Andy Muschietti’s work from Mama, and I thought he was a really, really talented director. And I also love the idea of concentrating on the kids half of the story. Skarsgard was great as Pennywise, and he’s got big shoes to fill — let’s face it — because people remember Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown, and they remember the look that Pennywise had.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site FHM.