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Professionalism of modern child actors reflects the reality they live in


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The remake of Stephen King’s “It” has become a big topic of discussion these last few months. I remember even before the release date was announced everyone was going crazy over it. However, after coming out in theaters there were a lot of ethical questions surfacing in regards to the child actors in the film.

In an interview conducted with Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Skarsgard, who plays Pennywise the demon clown, explains that working with the kids on the set of “It” was extremely “professional.” He elaborates this by explaining his experience working with Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Eddie Kaspbrak in the film. There was a scene in the movie where Pennywise had an encounter with Eddie, Skarsgard described it as “intense” because he was screaming violently in the child’s face to execute his role.

According to Skarsgard, the children had never seen a real clown before the shoot, and the directors kept the child actors away from him, I suppose that this was to protect the authenticity of the scare. During this specific scene, Skarsgard had thought that he was genuinely scaring Dylan because he was crying and gagging, but to his surprise after they yelled “cut,” Dylan got up and said, “I love what you’re doing, I love what you’re doing with the character.” In that moment Skarsgard realized just how professional these young actors were.

I think the idea around children playing intense roles as actors is an understandably split argument. Generally speaking, exposing sex, violence, vulgar language, etc. to children is something unfathomable. I think people are frightened that their children are going to grow up faster than they should have to because they have been exposed to reality. That’s where, of course, it gets tricky. Yes, no parent wants their child to come across these topics too soon and get involved in something that could potentially hurt them, but these things are unavoidable.

At some point in time, children explore and discover things without the help of anyone else. Let me place a very high emphasis on the term “role.” Of course, there is the possibility that the scene may be based on real events, but it’s not physically doing damage to the actor. The Webster dictionary defines an actor as “a person that behaves in a way that is not genuine.” That alone should provide comfort to anyone that is concerned that their childhood is being stolen from them. At 12 or 13, I was more aware of the world than I probably should have been due to the environment I grew up in.

Again, it is understandable not to want to see children taking on these mature roles and, instead, watch them do kid things. I think something that we tend to forget is that the role is something that the children accept, not something forced upon them. So, no I do not think that the roles these children play are too intense because they were aware of what they were getting into. Personally, I appreciate that children are not only allowed to play these roles but actually accept to play them because I think that it’s important to acknowledge that children who are non-actors are exposed to sex, drugs and violence more than we want to be true. It’s our reality and we need to face it.

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Professionalism of modern child actors reflects the reality they live in