Actor Jamie Clayton shares how she prepared for her portrayal of Pinhead in the Hellraiser Restart. The latest adaptation of Clive Barker’s horror novel The Hellbound Heart comes out on Hulu in October. Clayton, known for her roles in Sense8 and Designated Survivorstars as the leader of the cenobites in David Bruckner’s new version of Hellraiser. The Hellbound Heart tells the story of the “cenobites”, a group of supernatural sadomasochists who do not distinguish between pleasure and pain who are called to Earth by an ancient puzzle box from another dimension. The novella was first brought to the big screen as Hellraiser in 1987 by Barker himself, who directed and adapted the screenplay.
The film received mixed reviews at the time, but was generally positively received. Hellraiser has since become an icon of the horror genre and spawned its own franchise. The 11th episode is Bruckner’s intended reboot, also titled Hellraiser, which he has previously said aims to embody the fearless approach of the original film. the 2022 Hellraiser almost immediately took a big step in separating from previous incarnations by casting a woman, Clayton, as the primary antagonist Pinhead. The early reactions to Hellraiser have all praised Clayton’s performance, and many found her Pinhead fresh and exciting.
Clayton is now talking to Inverse on her process in preparing her own take on the iconic role of Hellraiser‘s Pinhead. She explains how she worked with Bruckner to take risks in recreating the character as she explored new territory. Clayton also describes the steps she took to protect her sanity as she delved into the darker themes of the film. She says:
“I wanted to add something completely new and fresh to the character. I didn’t want anyone to compare my performance to previous performances, which I think is why they wanted to cast a woman. It relieves the audience because it makes the comparison more difficult.
“But as far as preparing for the role, I listen to a lot of music. I make playlists for all my characters. I’ve been through a lot of misery in my life, so I really have all the torment, the pain, the fear, the loss, the suffering, the joy and the sensuality, all because of the discussions I had with David [Bruckner] about what the priest’s intentions were, why she did what she was doing at a particular moment, why she would ask a question she asked.
“There were nuances that I wanted to bring out, and David really helped me get there in all the conversations we had. We had time on set to play, to do different takes, to try different things. I mean we were going to do one take, and then another that was a complete 180. I did one super mad and acted like she was hungry for sex and blood. So there was time to explore. I stayed the whole time that we were filming in therapy. It was dark!”
What to expect from Hulu’s Hellraiser reboot?
The public may be afraid of yet another Hellraiser installment. Although the first sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II was successful, the rest of the franchise was negatively received, and the later ones concluded with straight-to-video releases. However, as suggested in Clayton’s interview, the new… Hellraiser‘s decision to cast a woman as Pinhead guarantees a fresh take on the film series. So far, the reboot is already getting positive attention from critics after its festival premiere on September 28. Actor Doug Bradley, who played Pinhead in the first seven of nine Hellraiser sequels, Clayton has also been praised in the reimagined version of the role.
Despite the franchise’s unfortunate history of flops, its timeless themes of sensuality and violence mean Pinhead’s world is being explored by all generations. It seems the public is making a bold and modern reinvention of Hellraiser which still pays tribute to the soul of Clive Barker’s classic tale. Clayton’s comments show that she took her role seriously, knowing that Pinhead’s motivations and nuances could make or break the film. This could just be a modern reboot that builds successfully on the original.
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