Jamie Clayton's Pinhead Performance Affected Everyone On The Hellraiser Set

It won't be too long now until the dark priest of hell shows us all such sights with Hulu's new take on "Hellraiser." Based on Cliver Barker's novella "The Hellbound Heart," this new film from director David Bruckner ("The Night House") seems less concerned with whether it serves as a remake, reimagining, or sequel, and more with the prospect of making Pinhead scary again.

The film stars Hiam Abbass, Odessa A'zion, Adam Faison, Brandon Flynn, Aoife Hinds, Selina Lo, Drew Starkey, and Goran Visnjic. Little is known of what "Hellraiser" is all about besides another group of curious minds toying with the deadly Lament Configuration, but the brief synopsis shows that, much like Ashley Laurence's Kirsty Cotton, another poor soul is about to come face to face with the infamous leader of the Cenobites known as Pinhead:

In the all-new "Hellraiser," a young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.

The biggest change to this entire story, however, is the person stepping into the role of Pinhead. Doug Bradley played the role with impeccable precision across four theatrical films and four less than stellar direct-to-video sequels. 

With a new spin on the "Hellraiser" mythos comes a new actor donning the makeup in Jamie Clayton, who so embodied the spirit of Pinhead that merely standing around in costume gave the cast and crew chills.

'When Pinhead is there, people pay attention'

During an interview with Jake's Takes, Brucker said that whenever Clayton came decked out in her full Pinhead attire, it's almost impossible for everyone on set to not feel the weight that comes with being in the presence of the mythic character: 

"Sometimes she was rather intimidating to be around I think, not just for me and for the other actors but also for the crew. I have a wonderful picture of her staying in character while we were setting a shot up, just in the labyrinth up against the stone wall with her hand on the wall, just counting down the moments, staying in that hellspace. Probably my eeriest moment on set."

Seeing the nightmares come alive on the screen is inherently terrifying, but being in the actual presence of the nightmare has to bring a fear of its own kind. It's up to the makeup team to bring the new incarnation of Pinhead, and it appears they've done a great job capturing the shock and awe of the head Cenobite.

While we don't have access to the stealth photo Bruckner took of Clayton, in just going off of the teaser trailer alone, it already looks like she's captured the silent, flesh-ripping appeal of an otherworldly force like Pinhead. 

The legacy of Pinhead

Hulu's "Hellraiser" won't even be the first time Bradley has been replaced as the overseer of pleasurable suffering, as Stephan Smith Collins, in tandem with the vocal talent of Fred Tatasciore, took over the role for "Hellraiser: Revelations," and Paul T. Taylor for "Hellraiser: Judgment." While none of them achieved the same kind of notoriety that Bradley commanded, it appears that Clayton is ready to step in as a worthy challenger to the throne of Hell.

Even though Bradley has already been recast in those latter installments, there's always going to be contention among some horror folk when it comes to someone else taking up the mantle. After all, Bradley's iconic performance is one that's difficult to forget, and harder to replicate. Akin to Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, even those that have never even seen the respective films they originate from are familiar with the screen slashers through cultural osmosis alone.

You didn't need to know what the Lament Configuration was in order to conjure Pinhead in your head. Bradley's booming voice feels grand and ethereal, which makes it easy to forget that in "Hellbound: Hellraiser II," Pinhead was once human in the form of Elliott Spencer, a weary World War I captain who finds the exact blend of pain and pleasure he's been searching for.

Clayton is ready to bring the pain

Given that Pinhead doesn't even need to say anything in order to send chills down your spine, it only lends further credibility to Clayton stepping into the role.

In terms of gothic frights, in less than two minutes, Clayton already looks like she's going to bring nightmares to a new generation. If you're somehow still on the fence, you only have to look to Bradley himself, who tweeted out his confidence in Clayton based on her excellent work in the abruptly canceled "Sense8."

"Loved Sense8! Disappointed we didn't get another season. Contrary to any rumors, I am fully supportive of your casting and looking forward to your performance!" Bradley wrote, signing off, "Peace and Pain, Doug."

"Hellraiser" will premiere on Hulu on October 7, 2022.