Interview with actor Nicholas Vince star of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II
By James Whittington, Monday 30th March 2020

Fridays in April on Horror will deliver to you three of the most viscous and acclaimed horror movies ever made, Hellraiser, Hellraiser II: Hellbound and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. One of the stars of the first two movies was Nicholas Vince who brought so much to the character of "Chatterer".

Here he, err, chats to Horror about how he become involved in such memorable movies and his plans for the future.

(Photo credit Dawson James Photography)

HC: When did you first meet Clive Barker?

NV: I met him at a party in May 1984. We got on well and he invited me to model for him; for his painted covers of the first UK hardback editions of his Books of Blood.

HC: What was your first impression of him?

NV: Charming, intelligent and funny. And a very talented artist.

HC: Did you have to audition for the character of "Chatterer"?

NV: Not as such. Clive invited me to play the part, but I had to get new head shots done as my usual ones were very 'boy next door', and he didn't think the producers would cast me. So I got a new set and had to beg the photographer not to airbrush out the cold sore I had during the shoot, as it made me look as if I'd been in a fight and had a bruised lip.

HC: This was your first feature so were you nervous on your first day on set?

NV: Very nervous. And excited. Apart from working with Clive as as director for the first time, I'd already got to know the team from Image Animation, who created the makeups for the Cenobites, and Jane Wildgoose who designed the costumes and was really looking forward to working with them. Then there was the whole magic of being on a film set.

HC: The make-up looks quite complicated; how long did it take to apply?

NV: My smart Alec answer to that question is, "Approximately 3 months." There was a long process before we began filming, after life casts of my head and body, the Chatterer mask was sculpted, and the costume made. There was also a makeup test after which the teeth were changed from being pointed to being human. On filming days, it was about an hour to get into makeup and costume.

HC: How uncomfortable was it to wear and did you help in the design?

NV: It was very restrictive. I couldn't hear, speak or see very well in the mask and the leather costume had been sculpted to fit me very closely. I did contribute to the design, but unknowingly. A story I'd told Clive Barker months before inspired the look of the Chatterer.

HC: How do you prepare to play such a fantastical creature?

NV: When I realised how restrictive the mask and costume were going to be, I recalled a mime class at drama school. The teacher told us to bring in a cardboard box which would fit on our heads. We weren't allowed to decorate or cut it. In the class we had to make that cardboard box have a life and character, simply using movement. We were dressed in skin fitting black leotards and tights. So, that training was very useful. And I practised chattering my teeth at home, as they didn't use mechanics on the Chatterer. The teeth you see were attached to mine and I was moving them.

HC: When you were making the first Hellraiser were you aware that you were part of something really special?

NV: Kinda. Clive's Books of Blood were obviously hugely successful, and Stephen King had given a quote naming him "... the future of horror." I'd read those stories, the Hellraiser script and Clive's plays and as I mentioned earlier was blown away by his writing. I'd also seen the makeups and costumes for the Cenobites and there was nothing like them in films before. It was totally unlike the Hammer horror and stalk and slash films. (Not that I don't love those films.) So, I knew this was going to be something very different and extraordinary. Did I think I'd have the fun of talking with fans of the films, including the many who weren't born when we made the films, more than three decades later? Nope.

HC: Would you return if asked?

NV: I'd love to work on the Hellraiser franchise again, particularly if Clive is involved.

HC: What is it like to see yourself/character used in merchandising?

NV: Absolutely delightful. In the 1990's I remember receiving the glow in the dark 16" figure by Screamin. And at one time I had the NECA 18" animatronic Chatterer, whose teeth chattered. I'm amazed at the accurate detail they managed to put into those and the smaller figures. I also love that he became a Funko Pop at the end of last year. I think it's a real testament to the work of Clive, Nigel Booth who sculpted and applied the Chatterer makeup and the costume designer, Jane Wildgoose.

HC: Why, after all this time do you think these movies still stand out?

NV: I think there's nothing like the first three Hellraiser films. They're not just about the Cenobites, we're on for a remarkably short time. The first film is really about Julia and the extraordinary lengths she goes to get her dead lover back. The second about Dr. Channard's (Kenneth Cranham) desire to learn the secrets of the puzzle box. Also, there have been spin off comics and short stories so it's been an inspiration to many other creators, particularly some modern horror film makers.

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

NV: I'm currently working on my third volume of short stories titled Prayers Of Desire and putting together more performances of my autobiographical show I Am Monsters! - in which I reveal secrets from behind the scenes of Hellraiser, Hellbound and Nightbreed. I'm also lucky enough to have acted in some fascinating feature films recently, such as Ashley Thorpe's Borley Rectory and Stewart Wright's Book of Monsters.

HC: Nicholas Vince, thank you very much.

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