Bill Skarsgård terrified moviegoers worldwide last year as Pennywise the Clown in the $700 million-grossing smash hit It, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. He’ll soon be unnerving viewers again, in a slightly different way. Created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Castle Rock focuses on a series of expanding, creepy mysteries that are kickstarted when a near-feral young man (Skarsgård) is discovered locked in the cage of Shawshank Penitentiary, and the first words he utters are the name of a defense attorney, Henry Deaver (André Holland), who has a complicated and estranged relationship with his hometown.
The wrinkle, of course, is that the show unfolds in the namesake, fictional setting of many of King’s most beloved works. Skarsgård allows that the King connection gave him pause, coming directly off of It, but says that the quality of the material won him over. “It was one of the strongest pilots I have read. I immediately was so intrigued by the world and the character,” said the 27-year-old actor when he stopped by the HFPA Comic-Con lounge. “So it became very clear to me that it was a very separate thing from the (project) that I just did. The character is completely different and the world is original and new, but obviously inspired by the narratives and style of Stephen King.”
“I didn’t read much of Stephen King growing up,” continued Skarsgård. “But I’ve revisited King the past couple of years and re-read his classics, and he’s just an incredibly versatile writer — there are just so many different worlds and stories that he builds. And Sam and Dusty took everything that they learned and experienced through reading his books as they adapted the show. So if you are an audience member, the more you are aware of the Stephen King universe, the more you will understand — there are little breadcrumbs and Easter eggs throughout the whole show.”