Hellraiser’s Frank Cotton is played by three separate actors, each serving a specific purpose. Here’s every actor that portrayed the character.
Clive Barker’s Hellraiser features a man named Frank Cotton who is portrayed by three totally different actors. As he develops throughout the movie, his appearance changes several times, which makes it entirely necessary to utilize actors with different physical appearances in order to perfectly capture the character. Here’s every actor that portrayed Frank Cotton in Hellraiser, what scenes they appear in, and how their specific traits were utilized in the movie.
The 1987 supernatural horror movie is based on Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart. It was such a massive success that it spawned an entire franchise that includes nine sequels and a remake of the original Hellraiser in development. In 2020, HBO announced that they intended on producing a TV show based on the movies with several directors set to contribute to various episodes. Mark Verheiden whose credentials include writing for Hemlock Grove and Ash vs Evil Dead is tied to the project. He will work alongside Michael Dougherty of Trick ‘R Treat fame and David Gordon Green, who worked with Blumhouse Productions as the director of the Halloween reboot trilogy. The trio intend to elevate the mythology of the Hellraiser characters in hopes of creating an even deeper understanding of what the Cenobites are as well as what they represent.
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Hellraiser follows the Cotton family as they move into a new home. Julia (Claire Higgins) is the second wife of Larry (Andrew Robinson). The two have a notably strained relationship, undoubtedly due to Julia’s affair with Larry’s brother Frank. While moving into their new home in hopes of rekindling their romance, Larry cuts his hand. His blood falls to the floor and resurrects his brother, who had died at the hands of the Cenobites he freed from a puzzle box. Frank goes through several major changes to his physical appearance after this point, which made each actor who portrayed him entirely necessary.
The first actor to portray Frank is Sean Chapman, who had previously starred in Clive Barker’s 1985 horror movie Underworld. He appears as a young Frank, who has just discovered the puzzle box in Morocco. Frank purchased it from an unknown dealer. Knowing nothing about the horrors contained within, he successfully completes the puzzle and is immediately torn to pieces. Sean Chapman’s portrayal of Frank is meant to establish that he is an attractive man who doesn’t necessarily care about anything but the prospects of fortune and sex, which is later showcased in his conversations with Julia.
Oliver Smith plays “skinless” Frank as he begins to manifest on the floor of the Cotton family’s new home. As he grows from a spot of blood left by his brother, Frank’s appearance starts to transform into his previous body, except he is missing all of his skin. Oliver Smith’s character doesn’t resemble the original portrayed by Sean Chapman. Rather, he resembles Andrew Robinson (Larry) more than he does anyone else. Smith is also substantially thinner than either actor, which was needed in order to capture Frank through the developmental stages of skeletal to skinless. Choosing this actor in particular could also be attributed to the fact that he does share more of a resemblance to Robinson, as he does take over the role of the final version of the character. Due to the fact that he needs skin to fully immerse himself back into the realm of the living and avoid being captured by the Cenobites, he takes his brother’s skin, which makes Andrew Robinson the new Frank.
It is unknown if he would’ve transformed back into Sean Chapman’s version of Frank if he had continued to feed on others, but it is relatively unlikely. Chapman is the original, youthful Frank that Julia fell in love with, Oliver Smith is “skinless” Frank with a physical resemblance similar to his final form with Andrew Robinson’s skinsuit version of Frank. Ultimately, three actors were needed to portray Frank in Hellraiser in order to outline his descent into darkness as well as his need to avoid returning to the torment of the Cenobites.
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