08 September

Who is Bill Skarsgård, the new face of horror?

 

As the new face of Stephen King’s diabolical clown, we take a look at Bill Skarsgård’s ascent from TV to the movies.

By Alexis Thibault

Cinema: a family affair

 

The youngest member of the Swedish Skarsgård family, Bill cinematic destiny was preordained. Starring in Millenium and Melancholia, Stellan, his father, already had two sons working in the 7th art. The first played Floki in the History Channel’s Viking series, the second starred as vampire Eric Northman in True Blood. Following small roles on Swedish TV, Bill moved into the movies with Andreas Ohman’s 2010 film Simple Simon. In it he plays a young man suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. The full-length feature was a success but didn’t end up representing Sweden at the Oscars. A year later he played opposite his Scandinavian compatriot Alicia Vikander in Kronjuvelerna before escaping across the Atlantic to take the role of Captain Makhotin in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, a new adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel. Hollywood opened its arms and Allegiant was his first blockbuster.

 

A small screen hero

 

While the movies certainly propelled him in the right direction, it’s been thanks to the small screen that Bill Skarsgård reached a wider audience. After Lilyhammer (2012) and House of Cards (2013), came the horror series Hemlock Grove, the third original project produced by the Netflix platform. Eli Roth, the series producer and gore lover described it as a “dark monstrous Twin Peaks”. The 27-year old actor played Roman Godfrey, a millionaire heir at the helm of the Hemlock Grove steelworks in Pennsylvania. Between vampires, werewolves, and Machiavellian laborers, the icy gaze and terrifying charm of Bill Skarsgård prevailed for three seasons.

From Charlize Theron to Stephen King

 

Recently the actor starred alongside the smouldering Charlize Theron as the Berlin contact of the atomic blond in the adaptation of Anthony Johnston and Sam Hart graphic novel, The Coldest City. But it wasn’t the pop ambience of Atomic Blonde that would definitively transform his acting career. Most won’t recognise Bill Skarsgård beneath the Luciferian grimace of a clown, yet it's sure to mark us. This autumn he takes on the role of Pennywise, first played by Tim Curry in the celebrated 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s horror story It. After endless casting calls, Skarsgård got the role in extremis after Will Poulter (The Labyrinth, The Revenant) to embody all coulrophobic’s worst nightmare, under the watchful eye of director Andrès Muschietti. “Actors were basically playing Tim Curry, there were even women trying for the role! But when we had Bill in front of us, we were immediately won over”, explains Barbara Muschietti, the film’s producer. Watch out as the giant Bill Skarsgård (he's 1.92m tall) draws the kids of Derry into his trap coloured with red balloons…

 

IT, en salle le 20 septembre 2017.

It - Andrés Muschietti

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