Will Poulter cast in 'It': Why diverging from the original is a good thing

Actor Will Poulter has reportedly been cast as villain Pennywise in the remake of Stephen King's novel 'It.' Poulter is much younger than actor Tim Curry was when Curry delivered his iconic portrayal. Here's why not being afraid to make changes when remaking a story is a good idea.

John Phillips/Invision/AP
Actor Will Poulter has reportedly been cast as the villain in the remake of Stephen King's novel 'It.'

Viewers who remember actor Tim Curry’s depiction of the terrifying clown Pennywise in the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “It” may be surprised by the depiction of the character in the upcoming “It” remake. 

According to Variety, actor Will Poulter, who starred in the films “The Maze Runner” and “We’re the Millers,” will be taking on the role for the film version directed by “True Detective” helmer Cary Fukunaga. 

Mr. Poulter is 22-years-old and Mr. Curry was 44 when the “It” miniseries debuted. According to Variety writer Justin Kroll, the studio behind the remake, New Line, wanted a younger actor to portray Pennywise and Mr. Fukunaga “could not say no after being blown away by Poulter’s audition.”

“It” follows a group of children growing up in 1950s Maine who encounter a strange, evil force. Years later, they must battle it again as adults. “It” producer Dan Lin previously stated that the book (which comes in at more than 1,000 pages) will be adapted as two films. 

So is it a good move to radically rethink the depiction of one of the book’s most memorable characters? Some of the best remakes and reboots have been those that have separated themselves from the original film in some way. If a remake doesn’t do so, then why is the movie being remade in the first place? In recent years, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” films set themselves apart from the campy originals by making Batman’s Gotham City a very dangerous place (and Heath Ledger’s Joker far less fun-loving than actor Jack Nicholson’s portrayal). The 2009 film “Star Trek” (which, while not a remake of a particular “Star Trek” story, featured new actors taking on the iconic original characters) weren’t afraid to add new plotlines like Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) being romantically involved.

Other recent movies have shown the benefits of not being married to their source material as well. The 2013 movie “World War Z,” which starred Brad Pitt, was based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks but, as noted by Yahoo writer Bryan Enk, is “an adaptation… essentially in name only.” But the movie version was still satisfying viewing. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer gave the movie a B-, writing that “director Marc Forster is very good at amping up the terror… [actor Brad Pitt] is never less than believable while facing off against this pandemic.” 

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