Interview: Paul T. Taylor Talks Playing Pinhead in Hellraiser: Judgment

Stepping into the role that Doug Bradley perfected over years certainly isn’t an easy task. Just ask Stephan Smith Collins. The latest soul to stick the pins in his dome is Paul T. Taylor, whose resume up until this point has been filled with smaller parts, but this definitely opens the gates of Hades – now all we have to do is wait for the consensus of the fans. In the meantime, Paul was gracious enough to talk with us for a few minutes regarding the role and his expectations (and worries) about suiting up for the first time – read on and enjoy!

Hellraiser: Judgment released on both Blu-ray and DVD on February 13, so if you’re willing to delve into the latest chapter, make sure to pick it up.

Dread Central: Paul, thanks very much for the interview – I for one thought you did a fantastic job in the role.

Paul T. Taylor: Thanks very much, I really appreciate it. I’m getting some really good reactions from the hardcore fans, and that was one of the major things that I was worried about, and I honestly couldn’t be happier.

DC: So was there a legitimate concern about how the true aficionados of the franchise would react to a new portrayal of a longtime favorite character?

PT: [There] was to a certain extent because the first conversation that I had in person with [director] Gary J. Tunnicliffe was that he said, “You are gonna get some push-back from the hardcore fans.” I love Doug’s performance of the character as well, and that’s why I’ve loved this Hellraiser series so much is because of what he did.

So yeah, I knew it was going to happen, and I know that the only way I’ll be able to do another film in this franchise is if the die-hard Hellraiser fans dig me in the role, so that is the main thing that I was worried about. I’ve had to deal with some people saying some pretty shitty things about me, and I’m at the place where I’ve got a good sense of humor about it.

Bottom line is that I auditioned for the role, got it, and got to be in the movie; and no one can take that away from me.

DC: Take us back to the beginning – how did it come to be that you got the role itself?

PT: A casting director from Oklahoma City put me on tape for this role after it’s learned that Doug wasn’t doing the role, but I had first been told that I was going to be on tape for the role of The Auditor, which Gary ended up playing, and when I first read the script one of the first lines was, “We have such sights to show you.” And I said, “Oh my god, it’s a Hellraiser movie!” (laughs) They had only been calling it Judgment, and it was a big secret that it was being made. When I read the role I said to myself, “I am perfect for this guy!”

Over the years I’ve played people that could be deemed as clerical, plus the fact that he was so creepy, and people think I’m creepy, which has been good for my career and I could see this kind of nerdy thing about the guy. Then I got a private notice that they wanted to put me up for Pinhead, which really freaked me out, and for 15 minutes or so I kept saying, “There’s no way this is going to happen.” I had to stop myself and say, “You’ve been waiting for something like this for so long.” I’ve actually been meditating about it: “Bring me good film roles – help my film career – this has got to happen now at this point in my life.” I then concentrated on giving the best film audition I’ve ever given in my life, and I really believe that it was, and look what happened.

DC: So you find out that you snagged the role – what was the first order of business for you?

PT: I did a little happy dance! (laughs) I notified a few people, but only people that I was really close to, because it was still a secret, and I was going to have to keep this a secret until the film opened. So I had to be very selective about who I told and they were sworn to secrecy by me, and it was Heather Langenkamp who spilled the beans during an interview about being cast in a small role for the new Hellraiser film. That was leaked the day I was driving up to Oklahoma City to shoot the film (laughs). All of a sudden it was “Oh my god – it’s a new Hellraiser movie! – Doug Bradley isn’t playing Pinhead? – who the hell is this guy? This is gonna suck!” That was people’s way of thinking about it. I’ve come a long way with this, and to get approval from diehard fans who have Pinhead tattoos on their thighs is huge.

DC: What was the first thing to cross your mind when you stepped out for the first time in full Pinhead makeup and costume?

PT: I think it was basically the classic: “I got this.” I’d worked a long time on it, and I”m not exactly sure how many weeks I’d had to work on it before I shot. The makeup and costume were so fantastic, built by highly-respected Hollywood professionals, and I knew that I looked spectacular. I got a chance to go to the trailer and sit in front of a mirror and experiment with it, which is what I’d read that Doug Bradley had done once he got the role.

The first time I walked through the warehouse doors to where we were shooting, and the crew was standing around, the doors parted and I could hear these audible gasps, and I thought to myself “I’ve got all the power.” It was so cool, like this power had been given to me, a power that had existed for 30 years, and if I’d not been confident I would have been completely lost. So I took on the mindset of a god with an ego, because that, in essence, is what Pinhead has become when this movie starts. I’m a very nice, sensitive, open person in real-life, and I’ve been blessed to be able to do this, to go places and play people that I am not. It was just the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life.

DC: Let’s say that you have a moment to speak to the legions of Doug Bradley fans – what will you tell them about what you’ll be bringing to the character?

PT: I’d say that I’m a huge Bradley fan myself, and I understand where they’re coming from, but times change and with many classic monsters over the course of time many actors can play those roles. Whether people like them in those roles is one thing. It’s apples and oranges. I’m a different actor and do you want the Hellraiser franchise to live on? Some people don’t and are ready for it to be dead.

Dammit, I had a really eloquent answer and I lost it! I’d just say, “See the freaking movie and judge it impartially.” It goes back to Clive Barker’s work, and Gary J. Tunnicliffe is a huge Clive Barker fan – a devotee of Hellraiser – he knows what he’s writing and creating and if we had a bigger budget it could have been up there with I & II, and I truly believe that.

DC: After the release of Hellraiser: Judgment, what’s coming up next for you on the work slate?

PT: I have a couple of movies coming out that are in the works. I don’t have definite dates for them yet but there’s this film called Jackrabbit, and I’m going to be meeting with some investors. It’s a film-noir kind of movie. It’s a crime drama but a bit down the rabbit hole with Terry Gilliam influence. That’s definitely going to be happening this year, and I’ve recently been talked to about being in a ghost-house remake, which would be great fun, so I hope that happens.

I also shot a film a few months ago called Sick For Toys, which is a Christmas horror film, and it will be released next year, and I’m also scheduled to be playing a cannibalistic clown in another movie, so that should be fun. All of the nerdy characters I’ve played in years past, and now I’m like, “No, I’m not a nerd anymore. I’m just a bad-ass.” (laughs)

Our thanks to Paul for taking the time to speak with us.  Keep in touch with him on his various social media accounts:

Instagram:  therealpaulttaylor
Facebook:  PinheadPaul
Twitter:  @Popoherman



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