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David Bruckner Had Several Good Reasons For Casting A Female Pinhead In His Hellraiser Reboot

"Hellraiser" is a long-running horror franchise originally created by author Clive Barker, adapted from his novella "The Hellbound Heart." The franchise primarily focuses on the Cenobites, a species of hellish demons devoted to experimental sadomasochism and torture. In each movie, someone comes into possession of a puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration, which opens a portal to Hell. Some willingly enter, while others unknowingly subject themselves to personalized physical or psychological torment.

The most popular Cenobite is Pinhead, a leader and representative of his demonic race, whose main responsibilities are to curate and oversee each victim's own personal Hell. Originally used sparingly in the first film, Pinhead slowly evolved into the mainstay of the franchise asĀ the movie series progressed. Though the character has changed actors in recent years, throughout most of the franchise, Pinhead was played by British actor Doug Bradley, and it's his version that fans remember most fondly.

Throughout Pinhead's history in the films, male actors have always played the role, with a backstory that defines the character as a man named Elliott Spencer. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that some fans were a little unhappy to learn that for Hulu's "Hellraiser" reboot, Pinhead was recast once more. However, what's different about this time is that the Hell Priest will be played by a female actor, Jamie Clayton. As expected, the gender swap had a portion of the fanbase loudly voicing their disappointment, but director DavidĀ Bruckner has a number of valid reasons behind it.

There has been precedent for a female Pinhead in Hellraiser lore

Recently, The Hollywood Reporter addressed the change and the reaction to it in an interview with the reboot's director, David Bruckner, asking if he was prepared for any backlash. It seems that Bruckner never really paid much mind to it, as he had always intended for Pinhead to be a woman. "We were never afraid of it. We always knew that [a female Pinhead] made sense given the history of the franchise and the kinds of fans that have embraced it... There had been a lot of precedent in the franchise. The original book that it's based on, 'The Hellbound Heart,' was suggestive of a female Pinhead, and the comic books also explored the idea," Bruckner explained.

Using quotes from the original novella, in a piece written in 2019, DreadCentral made the argument that a female Pinhead made the most sense considering the original text suggested a character whose gender was indecipherable, speaking with a feminine voice. So it seems that Bruckner is speaking from a place of familiarity with the source material.

However, if that isn't enough to persuade dedicated fans, Bruckner provided an additional reason for the recast. Considering how brilliant Bradley was in the role, Bruckner wanted something new and different, which Clayton provided, rather than provide a poor imitation. "It was also a way for us to not replicate Doug Bradley's incredible, iconic performance," he told THR. "We had to find an actor that could really imbue it with their own internal design ... her performance just felt completely fresh to me. She ignited new ideas for me in what the character could be, and that's all just in the way that she ran with it."

We'll soon find out just how differently Clayton reboots the character when "Hellraiser" hits Hulu on October 4.