Exclusive: Hellraiser: Judgment’s new Pinhead Paul T. Taylor speaks!

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Paul T. Taylor knows he has a lot to live up to. The actor, relatively unknown to movie buffs before 2016, is only the third person to portray the role of Pinhead in a HELLRAISER film. He follows in the imposing footsteps of Doug Bradley, whose portrayal as the eloquent demon spanned eight films from 1987 to 2005. In 2011, Bradley left the series and actor Stephen Smith Collins took on the role… much to the chagrin of horror hounds everywhere. (It didn’t help that the movie itself was of poor quality, to put it kindly.) When Taylor was announced as the new Pinhead, those same horror hounds expressed their displeasure that Bradley wasn’t coming back, despite the fact that, of course, they hadn’t even seen what Taylor was going to bring to the character. Horror lovers, much like superhero geeks, can be quite vocal when they put their minds to it. Indeed, Taylor knows this passionate fanbase can be awfully difficult to please.

Thankfully, Taylor is at peace with that now. HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT was shot two years ago, but is just now coming to Blu-ray, on February 13th (order your copy HERE), so Taylor’s had plenty of time to cope with the fact that some people just won’t care for his performance regardless of quality. But he’s also ready for others to be pleasantly surprised by his turn.

In the below interview, Taylor gets candid about the expectations fans have for his Pinhead, the dark places he had to revisit in order to get inside the character’s mind, the legacy of Doug Bradley and more!

So tell me, what is it like to become the new Pinhead?

Well, first I had to get over the fear that the hardcore Doug Bradley fans were going to hate me. I have a sense of humor about that now. The first thing was to go back and study Doug Bradley, because I wanted a sense of what had come before me. I owe everything to him, because he is the reason the franchise has gone on for so long, I really believe that. But that only lasts a certain amount of time, because I learned from past experiences that if you try to imitate another actor in a role, it’s going to be dead. So then I had to look at the script for this film and look at Pinhead’s situation, the frame of mind he’s in at this point. He does have a point of view in this movie, which is different from some of the sequels, he actually has a story, an arc. So I had to look at that and decide for myself, to go to the dark side. The darkness I’ve been in, the pain I’ve been in, the ecstasy I’ve been in, all that stuff. I had to go with my own experiences and spend a lot of time in the dark place.

I watched those Doug Bradley movies for a long time, and then director Gary Tunnicliffe and I agreed it was time to stop watching those Hellraiser movies and start creating a screen villain. Then I just took it from there and I had a blast exploring the scary. The scariness of my neighborhood, the scariness of my own fears and pain from the past. I had been cured of Hepatitis C after having it for several years, so I knew suffering. I was on the brink of suicide at one point, because I felt like shit all the time. Totally different from the kind of suffering Pinhead is in, but you know what I mean. It was anguish, because I thought my life was over. But I was cured, thank god, and then I got this role. It was kind of perfect.

Is there a level of nervousness taking on this iconic role, knowing how picky horror fans can be? Do you read the message boards and the sites?

I can take a certain amount of that. Any sort of fame or celebrity on this level is totally new to me. So people who have no idea who I am, don’t know me, they just know that they hate me because I’m not Doug Bradley. You can’t take that stuff personally. If you do, you’re going to fall into a trap, and you’re going to start responding and taking on that energy, and it’s all negative. It was very daunting; the first thing Gary Tunnicliffe told me when I flew out to L.A. to get my head cast done was, “People are going to hate you because you’re not Doug Bradley. So we’re just throwing you to the wolves here. I have your back, but you have to be prepared for that.” So I was warned about it from the very beginning.

Now that people have seen the movie and it’s being released, people are all over it. People have seen it already and it’s getting a really good response, and I’m so thrilled about it. That was my biggest worry, that people were just going to look at this actor playing Pinhead and say, “He sucks, he’s not Doug Bradley!” Of course it’s still going to happen with people who just can’t change their minds and don’t want to give me a chance, but for the most part the things I’ve been reading have been positive. Some of you hardcore fans have come over and started accepting me as a new Pinhead. Not the new Pinhead, because who knows, Doug Bradley could come back, and I know fans would love that. I would love that! I would love to do more of these, but you know, I have no control over it.

What was the make-up process like?

I loved it. They put this blue stuff all over my entire head except for my nostrils. It gets warm, it was like being encased in a womb. I sort of love being encased, I don’t know what it is, and they said, “Yeah, Johnny Depp loves it too.” I thought, okay, I’m in good company. For me, that was all that was involved. Then my first day of shooting there are make-ups that are finished, that already have the nails in them, sitting there waiting for me. I loved it. I don’t know if I have the tolerance of a Doug Jones, who sits in the make-up chair for hours. But I just loved it, because I could sit there in the make-up chair and watch myself turned into this character, which is the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. Gary is a genius at make-up and effects. He sculpted my particular make-up and did the new design for it, so I was in great hands.

I found it very curious that Gary decided to take on the role of The Auditor, seems like it would make his job like five times as hard. How was it being directed by him when he was in all that make-up.

It was really cool. The only scene, the one in the alley, that’s the only scene we shot when he wasn’t in The Auditor make-up. It was kind of crazy being directed by The Auditor, it made sense in a way. The Auditor has a very large role in the film and he’s got a manner about him; he’s not in charge of Pinhead, but he is in charge of his faction. So it really made sense. It was surreal. I have a wonderful picture of Gary in the Auditor make-up, without the sunglasses on, doing my make-up in the chair.

You would be down for another chapter or two?

Oh man, yes. I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and this is the biggest, coolest, most high-profile thing that’s ever happened to me, so I’m just riding this wave. I’m so grateful for it, because I was in Dallas, Texas, and this just dropped into my lap. This is a cool chapter, and it opens up the whole business of conventions. I’m a commodity now, and I wasn’t before. I’m not the commodity that Doug Bradley is, but I am a commodity, and that’s a first for me at this point in my life.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for JoBlo.com. He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.