If the evil clown Pennywise thinks he can get the best of a kid that grew up in South Philadelphia, he’s got another thing coming.
The first preview for the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It hit the internet this week, and it is thoroughly creepy. Though maybe a bit more so for Philadelphians, as it is one of our own — South Philly-raised Jaeden Lieberher, 14 — taking the brunt of the scares.
Due out Sept. 8, the flick retells King’s 1986 story about a group of young kids in Derry, Maine, who come together to defeat a shapeshifting, inter-dimensional being known to them as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Lieberher stars as group leader Bill Denbrough opposite Bill Skarsgård, who plays Pennywise.
The trailer opens with Lieberher as Denbrough making a paper boat for his brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), Pennywise's first victim in the story. However, you’ll want to stick around for the end, when a surely demonic Georgie tells his brother “Bill, if you’ll come with me, you’ll float, too.”
As Steven Rea reported for the Inquirer back in 2014, Lieberher grew up in South Philadelphia and attended Independence Charter School before moving to Los Angeles with his family at age 8 in 2011. He is the son of Angela Martell and Wes Lieberher, who is executive chef of Beer Belly in L.A.
After moving to L.A., Lieberher starred in a number of commercials before landing a gig opposite Bill Murray as Oliver in 2014’s St. Vincent. Lieberher has also appeared in the 2016 sci-fi film Midnight Special, and the 2015 Bradley Cooper/Emma Stone romantic dramedy, Aloha.
It was previously adapted as a miniseries in 1990, which starred Tim Curry as Pennywise, and Jonathan Brandis as Bill Denbrough. That series followed the young group of friends into adulthood and a time when they all return home to battle Pennywise a second time.
As Variety reported last year, this current It franchise will be broken up in a similar way. The first film is also known as It: Part 1 — The Losers’ Club, and focuses on the children. The second film will focus on the group in adulthood.
Prior to the Sept. 8 release of It, Lieberher will star in Focus Features’ The Book of Henry. Set for a June 16 release, the film was directed by Gregg Hurtwitz, and also stars Sarah Silverman, Naomi Watts, and Dean Norris. That film's trailer was released Thursday, and is considerably less disturbing than the preview for It: