Interview with director and pinhead actor

Jamie Clayton as Pinhead/The Priest

Jamie Clayton as a new version of a horror icon.
Image: Spyglass Media Group

The new ones Hellraiser arrives on Hulu next month, and fans of Clive Barker’s horror franchise are eagerly awaiting what director David Bruckner does to differentiate his film from the many series entries that have appeared before. A big change this 11th is making Hellraiser movie stands out: casting Jamie Clayton as demon antagonist Pinhead.

Prior to the film’s release, io9 got the chance to talk to Bruckner (The Nighthouse) and Clayton (Sense8) via video chat about what the Hellraiser loyal – and franchise newcomers – can expect.


Cheryl Eddy, io9: The Hellraiser franchise has been around for 35 years. How do you go about balancing the appeal for long-standing fans and those who might go to one? Hellraiser movie for the first time?

David Bruckner: Be one Hellraiser As a fan, it’s pretty easy to bring everything you love about the original movies back to life right away, and you can’t get it all in one movie. So it’s easy to follow those inspirations, but you also have an obligation to this story. This was always a new story and that sometimes takes you to other places, and you have to follow your inspirations in that regard. The Spirit of Hellraiser is one that I believe embraces invention and advancement of design and is always willing to go [to] some crazy places. So we wanted to find something that struck the chord that fans would love to see, but also allowed themselves to do new things for new audiences and see this as a gateway for people to the older movies. That would be fantastic. That would make me very happy.

io9: Jamie, Doug Bradley’s portrayal of Pinhead is clearly so beloved and iconic. Have you studied his performance in shaping your approach to ‘the priest’?

Jamie Clayton: David and I had many conversations before I would shoot any of the bigger scenes about what the intention would be, what the Priest was sort of feeling and thinking, and all of those things. He did send me one particular scene to watch—that’s our little secret—but he did send me one scene that was his favorite from the original film, and I remembered it. It was so helpful because it really was just sort of tonally an idea. It was this abstract idea, you know, it was one of the many colors with which we painted this beautiful portrait. And so there was that. But I really did just want to just make it my own. That was the goal. I mean, the goal was, even in casting a woman, it was seeking to take the burden off the audience’s shoulders of even trying to compare the two performances, because just right off the bat, they’re just going to be different.

Another Cenobite would like to make your acquaintance.

Another Cenobite would like to make your acquaintance.
Image: Spyglass Media Group

io9: How much of the make-up was practical and how much was CG, and how did you develop your character’s particular speaking voice?

Speaker 3: The makeup took four and a half to six hours depending on the day, how many other Cenobites would be working, and how many people I had working on me. But it’s all—everything that you see, if anybody knows the lingo of Hollywood, “last looks” are when the makeup artists jump in before you’re about to start actually shooting a scene. For any actor, it’s a little bit of powder on the forehead, some lip gloss. But for me and the rest of the Cenobites, it was all kinds of blood and, like, straightening a pin. All of those things [were] practical. There are a few pieces that have been painted to remove seams, but that’s me in all of that.

The voice was interesting because I did a voice when I recorded my audition, and I was just having fun with something. On the call back we did funny things playing with volume and projection and stuff. And then it finally came down to [filming] in Serbia there was also a time when we talked and I thought, “Maybe I’m not even going to do as much as I’ve done.” But then the neck piece is so tight and so restrictive, I kind of can not do more than what I do. Once [the costume was] everything on, [I was not] able to expand [or take a full breath]so it was all alive here a bit [in the back of the throat]. We just found it, and we found levels in it, and expression and tone, the disappointment or the sensuality. We found those things there.

io9: David, finally the Hellraiser movies out in the world, some of which are quite corny, and related work including a recent Rick and Morty episodehow do you continue Hellraiser scary?

Bruckner: Making things scary is always a challenge. And I feel like when you’re doing something in a horror movie, you’re on a crazy limb – you have prosthetic monsters, you fight the elements most of the time, and when you’re out there on the ground there’s always the danger that none of it can work. But look, Hellraiser is about many different things. It’s fantasy. It’s horror. It has surreal qualities. It is a reflection of the characters’ inner dilemma. I liked saying that we chased the sick giggles, the side of us that feels like we’re getting away with something, and then also allowing ourselves a little awe in horror, and being smaller than the material in some ways. So I think you just rely on that and believe in it. There is a sincerity to Hellraiser which I admire. And of course, when something has become iconic on the pop culture front, there will necessarily be another satirical side to it. But I don’t think that challenges the experience in any way that we can’t get behind.

io9: Are you involved at all with the HBO series that was announced in 2020?

Bruckner: I don’t know about it, but I wish them the best. I know Clive [Barker’s] I’m working on it. And I think if they can pull it off, I’d be a fan. I’d love to see what comes of it.

io9: Speaking of Clive Barker, he’s listed as a producer in your movie. How involved was he?

Bruckner: He was great. He was very involved. We had a lot of conversations when I was preparing, and a lot after the editing, and he’s a creative producer, so he was there to look at the material, challenge me, encourage me to come up with different ideas. to look . He sent me a lot of art. We had many conversations about the theme. He fully embraced the idea that this was the essence of Hellraiser, but was in some ways also a departure. Even before he had seen the designs, [he] said to me, we need to find a new way to do this; times have changed and its spirit needs to be rejuvenated. And so I hope that’s something we’ve accomplished. But I’m grateful for his time, and he’s a marvel to work with and talk to. And he was very generous with us.

Hellraiser premieres October 7 on Hulu.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest miracle and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on Film and TVand everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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