Hellraiser is best known for his iconic villain, the menacing and enigmatic Pinhead. But who are the faces behind the Cenobite leader?
Hellraiser is a horror classic, but the film wouldn’t be so memorable without Pinhead. The eerie, menacing, demonic entity mystified and terrified audiences when it first appeared in the original Hellraiser in 1981 and went on to remain the face of the franchise after ten films. As much as appearances shape a horror icon, however, it is the actor who truly brings a monster superstar to life. In the case of the Talking Pinhead without a mask, performance is even more important.
Fortunately for horror fans, Hellraiser was fortunate to have a back-to-back cast in the majority of the franchise, even though the actual films suffered a steep drop in quality. Although Pinhead appeared as a supporting character alongside the main human actors in the first film, his lack of screen time never eclipsed his towering presence. Hell: Hellraiser II developed against the background of the main Cenobite as well as the other demons in his circle, but the additional information still didn’t leave the character without a sense of threat.
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It’s important to note that every take on Pinhead is different, even if the same actor is playing the role. For example, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth turned him into a malicious killer more pure and simple than the enigmatic “demon for some, angel for others“from the first two films (much to fans’ chagrin), while other sequels have Pinhead embraced everything from sexual tension to slasher tropes. Here are all of the actors who played the spiky freakazoid.
Doug bradley is the man, myth and legend behind Pinhead. He is by far the most famous of all actors to play the horror icon, having appeared in eight of the ten films in the Hellraiser franchise. Pinhead may be more recognizable due to his unforgettable character design, but Bradley established the demeanor, voice, and attitude of the horror icon. The actor’s mysteriously menacing presence helped the Cenobite leader stand out in the first Hellraiser film despite minimal screen time, and it kept that ominous look into the sequel. The following sequels were castigated for their shoddy storytelling, but at least there was Bradley holding together all the bits of the scripts he could love, he sewed ripped flesh. The actor has remained friends with Clive Barker, appearing in the Writer / Director’s follow-up to Hellraiser, Race of the night, as well as a cameo role in recently released Hulu’s Blood book.
Stephan Smith Collins and Fred Tatasciore
Hellraiser: Revelations, released in 2011 so The Weinstein Company wouldn’t lose studio rights, was the first film in which Bradley declined the offer to play Pinhead because of “Tiny filming schedule … more than made up for the budget.Instead, the role was split between a physical actor, Stephan Smith Collins, and a voice actor, Fred Tatasciore. Fans and critics alike have not welcomed the change of identity, targeting the work of hasty makeup and awkward performance. Tatasciore has managed to find work anyway, usually appearing as the voice behind the animated Hulk, as well as voices in Warner Bros. properties like Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, and DC.
Paul T. Taylor
While critics slander Hellraiser: Revelations to be a soulless cash-grab, Hellraiser: Judgment was pleasantly surprised by his effort and creativity, despite his messy plot. Some of the praise went to the Pinhead actor Paul T. Taylor, a Hellraiser superfan who described his role as “a dream come true“in an interview with 1428 Elm. Taylor explained that to get into the role, he smoked cigarettes to make his voice gritty and walked around the sleazy part of town at night in order to control his fear. Interestingly, he also based his performance on Hellraiser comics, giving his interpretation a unique angle. Despite his hard work, Taylor remains a little-known character actor, despite having many roles both in mid-production and in post-production.
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