When two actors play the same character, there are always people debating who is the best out of all the other iteration of the specific portrayal of the given character. Some people prefer Michael Keaton to Christian Bale’s Batman; you can make an argument for each and every Bond actor and why they deserve to be the best out of all the actors. There will always be arguments when a known IP is remade for a different period of time.
Maybe one day, when we get older, they will try and remake the 'Lord of the Rings' series, which means we will probably be arguing who was the best 'Gandalf'. But before all of the other comparison, there is one pressing matter here and now, the debate for who is the better Pennywise, Tim Curry or Bill Skarsgard.
The two actors are totally different in their portrayal of the murderous clown, and there are moments to love both the characters but when it comes to a match and who we would prefer best, there can only be one winner. So, who is the best out of the two actors?
Tim Curry For The Win?
Tim Curry’s Pennywise is simplistic in nature; he is more like a real clown with evil intention then really an other-worldly being. Tim Curry jokes around and throws out one-liners and portrays the character in a manner which makes him seem like a real clown. The simplistic nature of his character coupled with evil intention was exactly why this was so suited for the time when the series was shot.
Tim Curry’s first interaction with a kid, especially 'Georgie', was the contrasting factor between the two characters from the get-go. The clown IT calls Georgie and shows him his boat why leading him in the sewer, Georgie tells Pennywise he is not supposed to talk to strangers and Pennywise circumvents the whole thing by telling Georgie his name. The playfulness with which he is interacting with the kid doesn’t reveal the evil intention of the clown. He seems more of a pedophile and a creep than a carnivorous alien who feeds on the flesh of the children.
Watch: IT from the 1990 TV series
Tim Curry’s iteration is supposed to terrify more parents with the fact the no stranger policy really doesn’t work in real life. The harm children are in is portrayed through an evil clown Tim Curry is supposed to play on the fear of the children towards clown, but the monster is geared more towards parents, and Tim Curry plays into the adult scaring role perfectly. Tim Curry plays the clown in such a way which will make your parents forever wary about clowns and Bill is someone who will eat your child no nonsense whatsoever.
Bill Skarsgard For The Win?
The first contrasting detail between the two characters is shown by the interaction Pennywise and Georgie share in the starting moments of the film. In the first iteration of Pennywise, the monster is trying to lure in Georgie with his fun vibes, and there is no evil intention beyond the clown being a little creepy. But the movie Pennywise is different, the interaction with Georgie is similar, but through it all, you can see an amount of blood lust in the eyes of the other-worldly monster. The voice and the demeanor all give away an eerie feeling, he is not there to play around, and this Pennywise will eat you and won’t even leave behind your clothes.
There is no cool and calmness about the character, in the same way, Tim Curry portrayed the character, movie Pennywise is arrogant, and there is no hint of playfulness like Tim’s, Bill’s Pennywise will terrorize the kids and all his playfulness to scare and play with his prey. This iteration of Pennywise will never pass off as a clown, and this is also the clown your parents will definitely steer you away from.
Watch: The Georgie scene from the movie released in 2017
The menace shown by Pennywise was something new to the character, the Tim Curry version was goofy and funny but also scary Bill’s version is just outright scary, and it is meant not to caution the parents but to scare the living sh*t out of everyone in the audience. With little effort, Bill’s portrayal manages to scare, and from the first scene, you realize there is no other ulterior motive for the character except to kill and sate its own hunger.
For The Win?
We need to go with Bill’s portrayal, there is a certain amount of recency bias going into our decision, but we also got our own particular reason why Bill’s portrayal is the best. From the first moment, we see Bill’s character the evil within the clown is for all to see, there is no disguise or hidden motive when it comes to the character. On the other hand, Tim’s performance makes it seem like you can save the monster from its evil ways like he can be sent into rehab and can come out of it all without wanting to eat children.
The other thing why we prefer Bill’s portrayal better is because of the unnatural yet familiar way of portraying the character. The series’ Pennywise is like a cannibal human who wants to eat children, but the portrayal by Bill, on the other hand, seems like he is from another planet and is here to kill and eat. The reason Pennywise is scary in the original series is for you to understand his motives and undo the mask which hides the real monsters, but Bill’s portrayal is so blatant in its evil showing, we do not need to engage in any kind of song and dance.
Watch: Pennywise terrifies the Loosers
Tim Curry is scary, but you need to be honest and think which iteration of the character sticks out the most, the joking but evil demeanor of Tim Curry’s portrayal, or the evil laugh of Bill’s performance? The answer will clearly determine which portrayal you prefer the most, and for us, it will always be Bill’s Pennywise, which will take the top prize.