James McAvoy has mixed it up with Pennywise the Dancing Clown on the set of “IT: Chapter 2,” and apparently it didn’t go super well.
McAvoy instagrammed the aftermath of his battle with the evil shape-shifting clown (played by Bill Skarsgard) during shooting. According to the post, the result was “two pulled thighs.” The photo shows McAvoy in his chair on set, using “Compresse Froide” (“cold compress” in French — the movie’s shooting in Toronto, which is sorta close to French-speaking Quebec) — to ease the pain.
While McAvoy might have lost this go-round with Pennywise, he promised he wasn’t done with the fight against Pennywise via a hashtag: “#gonnatakehimdowntoclowntown.” We assume that, despite Pennywise being a clown, “Clown Town” is a euphemism for a beat-down and not a place he would actually want to go.
In the second movie of the two-part “IT” film adaptation, McAvoy plays the grown-up version Bill Denbrough, played as a kid by Jaeden Lieberher in the first “IT.” Bill is something of the leader of the group of kids known as the “Losers Club,” and he led them down into the sewers beneath Derry, Maine, (Clown Town?) to fight the demonic clown — and they even managed to defeat it.
Given the dirty look of McAvoy’s clothes and the discussion of fighting Pennywise, it’s a fair guess that McAvoy and the rest of the cast were filming what might be the climactic final battle between the Losers Club and their clown arch-nemesis. In the first “IT,” the final fight between the kids and Pennywise took place in a huge, cavernous room beneath the city, but while they hurt the clown, they didn’t manage to kill it before it escaped down a pipe. If the novel (and McAvoy’s clothes in the shot) are any indication, the final fight between the Losers and Pennywise will likely take them even deeper into the earth, to stop Pennywise from escaping a second time.
Just what that final battle will be like is an open question, however. In the Stephen King novel on which the movie is based, Pennywise isn’t the true form of the creature the kids are hunting, but one of its many shapeshifting masks. The real monster looks more like a giant spider, something we haven’t seen yet.
And then there’s the question of the fight itself. The movie version of the battle with Pennywise in “IT” included some spooky trickery and an emphasis on the kids refusing to be afraid of the clown, which drained its powers, but they still wound up smashing its head with a pipe. The novel battle is different — it’s all mental, with Bill facing down the spider-monster on another plane of existence, beating it with what is basically the pure power of belief. When the adults show up 27 years later, the fight with the spider is pretty similar to that battle.
If McAvoy’s Bill is straining to fight Pennywise (or maybe the spider version of the clown), that suggests a more physical confrontation with the creature than what’s in the novel. That could mean that trying to predict the outcome of “IT: Chapter 2” from the way King’s novel shakes out might be a lost cause. We’ll have to wait for the movie’s release in September 2019 to find out.