Interview: Hellraiser: Judgment star Paul T. Taylor drops by 1428 Elm

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With the release of Hellraiser: Judgment just around the corner, star Paul T. Taylor paid us a visit to talk about the film and becoming the new Pinhead.

Recently news broke that Hellraiser: Judgment was finally getting a release date of February 13, 2018 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon right now. Hellraiser: Judgment has been a long time coming as fans have awaited an official release for some time. It has been seven years since Pinhead has graced us with his presence. Unfortunately the last time was in 2011 when fans were given a quite rushed and despised entry in the way of Hellraiser: Revelations. 

Actor Paul T. Taylor has stepped up to the plate and has taken on the role of the Pinhead in this new installment. I reached out to Paul to discuss his role, how the film will stack up against others in the series, and the backlash he has received despite nobody having seen his performance yet. Below is our conversation.

1428 Elm: Congratulations on the new film Hellraiser: Judgment! The character of Pinhead is a beloved icon in the world of horror. Were you a fan of the series before taking on the role?

Paul T. Taylor: Thank you, playing Pinhead is a dream come true… literally. And yes, I’ve been a fan of Hellraiser since it first came out. I have all the action figures! In 1987, I had never seen anything more in-your-face gruesome and the make-up and effects were and still are stunning. It’s shocking and grotesque and I loved it.

A lot of fans dislike at the idea of someone besides Doug Bradley playing the character of Pinhead. Have you received any grief over the role or have fans seemed to be more open to the idea?

I have been receiving grief since before my week of shooting was even finished! Fans are passionate! But I was warned by the director (Gary J. Tunnicliffe) in our first phone conversation that some fans would be more unaccepting than others of a new actor playing Pinhead. Stephan Smith Collins, who played Pinhead in the much-maligned Hellraiser: Revelations, did not fare well with his Pinhead performance and many fans are STILL livid about it.

But I take it all in stride. Some fans are actually excited about a new Hellraiser movie and some are extremely supportive of me in the role. To those who are willing to wait and see my performance before condemning me, I thank you.

Did you do anything special to prepare for your role?

Yes, I spent a lot of time alone in the dark, smoking — not a normal habit for me. Those things will kill you… duh. To some people, that’s their everyday life, but not mine. I simply wanted to make my voice gravelly. I live in a sketchy neighborhood and my house is on the edge of a high-crime area. I would take walks late at night, something I wouldn’t normally do, daring anyone to approach and have an altercation with me.

Nothing truly scary ever happened, but I was simply making myself unafraid by facing the fear. Pinhead is fearless and I needed to know what that felt like. Pinhead has been good for me in that respect. I think most people live in fear and that is something I refuse to do. I also watched a number of dramas and horror films in which there are very strong, very still villains, such as The Silence of the Lambs and Schindler’s List. But after a few weeks of that, I stopped so that I would make my Pinhead MY Pinhead.


Hellraiser: Judgment has a slated release date for February 2018. The film was completed over a year ago and fans have anticipated the release. Is there any specific reason for the delay?

I think the reasons are many, but probably mostly due to the studio (Dimension Films) not doing the film for the love of the franchise, but rather to legally hold onto the franchise. It’s a Weinstein property, and we all know how that’s turning out! I wonder if the movie would have EVER been released if the women who have come forward to share their stories about Harvey had remained silent. I think it just wasn’t a priority for the studio to release it, but now they need all the money they can get.

When you were shooting the film, on average how long would it take you to get your look finished from makeup to costuming?

It took a little under two hours for make-up alone. It’s kind of funny. There is a Hellraiser tradition that the make-up person who is assigned to apply Pinhead’s make-up go for a world record. Mike Measimer would come into the trailer, hit the timer and start gluing. At a good stopping point, he would stop the timer and go out for a cigarette break, then come back and hit the timer and continue. He did beat the record, but I don’t know what the exact time was.

All I cared about was that the nails were straight and that I didn’t look like a stroke victim. I’m happy to report he never messed up. He nailed it, as it were. And getting the garb on took about 15 minutes, then putting in the contact lenses. Gary did the contacts because he’s really good at it. The full sclera contacts are a bitch to get in and out if you don’t know what you are doing. Gary would also do the last-minute touch-ups, air brushing etc., before shooting.

Do you have a favorite memory or experience while you were making this film?

My favorite memory was when we were just about to start shooting the BIG SCENE where Pinhead does his stuff i.e. “tearing souls apart”, etc. (10 pages at the end of Act Three) and Gary said, “Okay, let’s make Paul T. Taylor a MOVIE STAR!” I’d never heard those words spoken before and they sent me to a headspace where I’d never been before. Like, the possibility of that happening was not just a dream but a real thing. Time will tell.

My favorite moment in front of the camera was the first Pinhead scene we shot, in which Pinhead is sitting quietly on a throne of sorts, just listening and being present. It was a good place to start for my Pinhead.