Here's How Jamie Clayton Updated The Pinhead Character In The New Hellraiser

Doug Bradley's portrayal of Pinhead in all eight "Hellraiser" films easily goes down as a stunning, irreplaceable rendition of the Hell Priest from Clive Barker's work. Bradley started off by playing Pinhead as a terrifying, stoic Cenobite embodying the "demon to some, angel to others" sensibility perfectly, and went on to infuse the character with more human qualities as the films progressed. With David Bruckner's "Hellraiser" set to release soon, the upcoming reboot has such sights to show us, with Jamie Clayton taking on the mantle of Pinhead — a portrayal that came with its own set of challenges.

In a soon-to-be-published interview, /Film's BJ Colangelo spoke to Bruckner and Clayton about "Hellraiser," in which the director explained how Clayton's re-interpretation of Pinhead was perfect for the film. As mimicking Bradley's performance was not the right way to approach the character, Brucker and Clayton went for a completely fresh approach that still retained the core personality traits of the lead Cenobite. Bruckner explained:

"How do you take something so iconic and do it again? And so I knew that it could never be an impression. We couldn't mimic Doug's performance...And Jamie's read came along, and I was familiar with her work, but it really blew me away. It scared the hell out of me. She was intense and intimidating, but there was a reservation there and she had this hypnotic quality."

Clayton's reading of Pinhead had qualities befitting a horror reboot of a franchise so beloved, as her version of Pinhead was more quietly menacing yet involved in human affairs in a curious yet restrained manner. Bruckner and Clayton worked at honing this approach to the character and eventually arrived at the version we are allowed a glimpse of in the film's trailer.

A different, equally terrifying Hell Priest

Bruckner's "Hellraiser" follows a similar premise to the original 1987 film, as it follows a young protagonist (Riley, played by Odessa A'zion) who stumbles upon the hellish Lament Configuration, which opens a portal to another realm. Per the trailer, the puzzle box evolves with every stage, which unlocks fresh horrors and claims new victims, allowing the Cenobites to appear in our realm and carry out their duties.

Clayton's voice as the Hell Priest can be heard in the trailer, and there's a delicious quality to the way in which she expresses her motivations. In the same interview mentioned above, Bruckner highlights this sensual aspect of the character and explains how Clayton added new layers to the character, essentially understanding the assignment at once:

"And Jamie just really, I think, understood that she was going to have to come at this in her own way, and started to illuminate elements of the character that I had never imagined. And there's a sensuality to Pinhead, to the Priest, that I don't think we've seen before. A curiosity. And I think you get a sense of the designs that she has on her subjects and what she's after, and that felt like something I just wanted to see more of."

Although it is too early to get into a nuanced exploration of Clayton's Pinhead, the character seems to be tapping into the multifaceted traits of a sadomasochistic, extra-dimensional being with motivations incomprehensible to the human mind. I think the results are grand, as Bradley himself took to Twitter to praise the new Pinhead design, calling it "subtle, disturbing, and sexy."

You can decide whether Clayton's Hell Priest is as deliciously terrifying as promised when the new "Hellraiser" drops on October 7, 2022, on Hulu.