One of the most iconic images that comes to mind when we think of scary clowns is that of Pennywise from Stephen King’s “It”. At a whopping 1200+ page count, it’s his second longest novel (just behind “The Stand”), and seemed nearly impossible to adapt to film.
But in 1990, we saw King’s terrifying story brought to the small screen in a TV movie/miniseries starring the one and only Tim Curry. It debuted on November 18, 1990, with the second half airing on the 20th. So in honor of its 30th anniversary, we thought it would be fitting to look at 30 fun facts about It (1990)!
1. Tim Curry was initially reluctant to play Pennywise, as he was wary of the long makeup process, after working on Ridley Scott’s Legend a few years earlier. He agreed after he was assured the process here wouldn’t take nearly as long.
2. Before Curry was cast, they considered Alice Cooper, Roddy McDowell and Malcolm McDowell for the iconic role.
3. ABC budgeted the production at $12 million, which was double the usual TV movie budget in 1990.
4. Originally, George A. Romero was attached to direct, but had to drop out due to working on the remake of Night of the Living Dead.
5. The recent success of Twin Peaks, served as a sort of template for how ABC wanted the style this miniseries.
6. Stephen King himself was initially hesitant about the TV movie production, as he felt the TV censors wouldn’t be able to adapt his work properly.
7. Director Tommy Lee Wallace had famously directed Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and even had a small role in John Carpenter’s The Fog.
8. Pennywise’s appearance was loosely based on that of Lon Chaney in 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera.
9. The infamous “orgy” scene from the novel was never even considered by Tommy Lee Wallace. In addition to being wildly inappropriate for TV movie standards, Wallace said something “didn’t ring true” to him about that part in the book.
10. Wallace had actually never read the novel in its entirety until after making the film. He wanted to let the script speak for itself.
11. Despite being set in Maine, it was shot in British Columbia, Canada.
12. Curry was reportedly so creepy on set that most of the other actors avoided him.
13. Fellow horror author Dean Koontz had a cameo as one the asylum guards where Henry Bowers is committed as an adult.
14. It was actually raining on the day they were shooting the scene where the Loser’s Club enters the sewers, which helped the production out a lot, given their TV movie budget.
15. Wallace said that the “It POV” shot was inspired by John Carpenter, who told him years earlier that often what you don’t see is scarier.
16. The scene at the Chinese restaurant required puppeteers underneath the table, making the fortune cookies “come to life”.
17. Originally the plan was to have Tim Curry play every incarnation of Pennywise, including the werewolf and even Mrs. Kersh. But it was ultimately decided that it would take too much time in makeup, as Curry was already playing the clown version, so the scrapped the idea.
18. Adult Bill is seen has having written a novel called “The Glowing”, a not so subtle reference to Stephen King’s own “The Shining”.
19. While shooting the introduction to adult Ben, the actress playing his date allegedly thought that actor John Ritter was actually Beau Bridges.
20. During the scene with Ben in the taxi, a balloon appears next to him and seems to be turning. This was done by John Ritter himself with his hand just off camera.
21. The blood effect coming from Georgie’s picture in the photo album was considered quite shocking for a TV movie, as it wasn’t typical to show blood like that in 1990.
22. Shooting the sewer scenes was potentially dangerous due to everything being so rusty. The cast and crew were cautioned against touching anything, for risk of tetanus infection.
23. The trailer for the miniseries used the same iconic Danny Elfman score from
24. After filming, John Ritter kept one of the playing cards that bore Pennywise’s face.
25. The It miniseries uncannily predicted the future, as adult Richie makes a remark about letting Jay Leno host The Tonight Show, which he did 2 years later in 1992.
26. Tommy Lee Wallace “blamed” the poor reception of Part 2 on the fact that the adult actors “weren’t as magnetic to watch”.
27. Won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition, and was nominated for Outstanding Editing.
28. There exists a much lesser known “remake” that debuted on TV in India in 1998 title Woh.
29. While the miniseries is often remembered as being quite dated in many ways, it still holds a strong cult following, thanks to Tim Curry’s performance.
30. The actor who played young Ben (Brandon Crane) had a cameo in 2019’s It: Chapter Two as a board member of adult Ben’s company.
Which of these did you already know? Which ones surprised you? What’s your favorite Saw movie? Let us know in the comments!
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