There’s no arguing that Pennywise the clown is an icon within the horror genre and thanks to the depiction of the character by two exceptionally talented actors, a variety of spooktacular merch to bridge across generations. That aside, with almost 30 years between the films (and a vast difference in the development of special effects), the portrayal of Stephen King’s Pennywise the clown has undoubtedly scarred horror and non-horror fans alike. While both Skarsgård and Curry brought a different, evil twist to the iconic depiction of the character, one has to be better than the other. So, who is the true Pennywise the clown?

How does each one’s appearance compare with the novel?

King’s novel depicts Pennywise the clown to be wearing a baggy silk suit of silver with orange pompoms, a collar ruff, and white gloves. His face is white, with a bald head, and red hair on each side. His mouth has a red clown smile and his hands are holding balloons. Reportedly, the villain was based on the appearance of Ronald McDonald, Bozo the Clown, Clarabell the Clown, and the birthday clown costume of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

In our opinion, Skarsgård wins the appearance. 

How creepy is the voice?

Another key difference between the two portrayals is how each actor voices the character. Curry’s Pennywise the clown has a rasp with a growl to it—comparable with Robert Englund’s version of Freddy Krueger. One might say that his voice is traditional like his costume. On the other hand, Skarsgård has a varied voice, growly in the moment but soothing in the next.

In our opinion, Skarsgård wins the voice. 

Which one is more creepy?

Both actors play Pennywise the clown in a different way, but it’s effective and equally as creepy. Curry’s Pennywise has vacant, dead, lifeless eyes. This is especially evident when he goes in for the kill. Whereas Skarsgård’s eyes are more menacing. Also, Curry spends more time on screen humoring and playing with his victims, while Skarsgård simply shows up randomly in more places. The latest film really benefited from a larger budget and high-quality effects, which makes it otherworldly that Curry was able to do what he did in 1990. 

In our opinion, Curry wins creepiness.

Overall, we love both depictions equally but as true horror fans, we need to support the original slightly more. Needless to say, shop Pennywise the clown collectibles at our shop and you’ll find mementos from both versions!

Which Pennywise the clown depiction was your favorite? Drop a comment below.  

March 10, 2023 — Alex Wilks