New Pinhead Actor on How to Be a Hellraiser

New Pinhead Actor on How to Be a Hellraiser

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It’s kind of a Hellraiser Halloween.

Sure, every Halloween is a good Halloween to watch a Hellraiser movie, but this year there’s a brand new one: The Nighthouse Director David Bruckner’s reboot-style continuation of the Clive Barker series, starring Jamie Clayton as the iconic Pinhead.

Clayton is the latest actor to step into Pinhead’s homemade leather boots. Polygon was lucky enough to catch up with Clayton and Bruckner via Zoom, where they explained what it takes to play a Pinhead and gave us a step-by-step guide to becoming a “hell raiser” yourself.

[Ed. note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]


Step 1: Check Out the Original Hellraiser

Image: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Clayton watched Clive Barker’s acclaimed 1987 film the night before her audition for Bruckner’s version, but Cenobite wannabes should be able to watch it as many times as they want (on Prime Video, Shudder, or for free with ads on Tubi and Pluto TV). It’s one of the best horror movies ever made, as Bruckner will tell you, it’s a bit of a miracle it even exists.

“I think of the original Hellraiser and I think it’s a miracle that all those images were released in one movie at once,” he says. “It came out and we had never seen anything like it.”

After seeing the original, Clayton said she had “many, many, many” discussions with Bruckner about the smallest details, such as Pinhead’s attitude and voice.

“I was very grateful to David for all the time he took,” she says. “He had been working in Serbia for months before any of us even arrived. David took so much time planning with me, late at night on Sunday […] to help me a little bit to get to a place where I could really become the priest.”

Step 2: Spend half the day dressing up

Jamie Clayton in full Pinhead turnout looks left in Hellraiser

Image: Spyglass Media Group/Hulu

In front of HellraiserBruckner again teamed up with Russell FX makeup artists, who collaborated with him on The Nighthouse and The ritual. Clayton estimated that it took between four and six hours to put the Pinhead makeup on, depending on the day, and another hour to remove it all at the end of the day.

What was she doing during this long wait? Listen to music (Nina Hagen, Depeche Mode and The Sisters of Mercy were on repeat) and get out. Clayton says the Russells were “phenomenal” to work with.

“I couldn’t have asked for more great makeup artists and confidants,” says Clayton. “I always say it’s a very intimate experience to have your makeup done. I mean you have someone like that in your face [gestures right in front of face]. And with prosthetics, it’s a whole different level of intimacy.

“It’s proof of the makeup effects team because we have a lot of Cenobites,” says Bruckner. “They were really on the edge the whole time. It was kind of amazing what they could achieve.”

Step 3: Walk on set and amaze the crew

Drew Starkey screams while holding a vertical bar with a bloody hand in Hellraiser.

Image: Spyglass Media Group/Hulu

So you’ve done your research, spent your time in the makeup chair – now you just need to get out there and do your thing. But that’s harder than it sounds when you’re under so much makeup.

“I remember saying to David a few times, ‘Does all this work?’” Clayton says. ‘Is there anything to read, do I have an expression on my face at all?’ It’s all glued on and I can’t really move my face.”

That wasn’t a concern for Bruckner, who was Clayton’s “eyes and ears” and reassured her while shooting.

“From the very first lecture we saw, she scared the hell out of me,” says Bruckner. “Pinhead has been burned into our memories in so many different ways. […] We knew you couldn’t impress Doug Bradley. It’s too iconic. We will have to find something that makes sense to us, something personal. Jamie immediately jumped in on certain aspects of the character and had her own thing. She found a curiosity in the priest, a sensuality, as if there was a sense that the priest could enjoy her designs to some extent, whatever they may be, especially when she has a subject in her clutches. That was very engaging for our story, but it was also a little hypnotic for me to watch.”

Even if Clayton couldn’t see it while she was filming, everyone else noticed. Bruckner said she would become “possessed” when the time came, leading to a palpable energy on set.

“You can always feel it on set,” says Bruckner. “A silence falls over the crowd, the crew pays their respects. Her Majesty is here. And it’s her turn to speak.”

Step 4: Raise Hell

After preparing mentally, getting dressed and shooting, there’s only one thing left to do: send it out into the world. And Clayton’s excitement is hard to contain.

“I’ve been in this for a year, not knowing what’s going to happen,” she says. “And finally people are starting to see it, and I’m starting to get caught [up in it] and get really emotional. I’ve just been really worried and very scared. I mean, I liked it. Even David said to me after I saw it: “I’m so glad you like it.” We’re all just, you know, on pins and needles.

Hellraiser is available to stream on hulu.

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