Beloved scream queen Ashley Laurence first made a name for herself facing the terrifying Pinhead in 1987’s horror classic, Hellraiser. From then on, her name became synonymous with Kirsty Cotton. But the young actress had ambitions outside of the hit franchise. As a result, her career took her to places far away from the nightmare world of the monstrous Cenobites. So what has she been doing since she last sent these demons from another dimension back to hell? Let’s find out!
Background info & Early Career
Born May 28, 1966 in Los Angeles, Laurence started professional acting work as a teenager when she was cast in episodes of Capitol and Highway to Heaven. It was during this time that she began participating in an acting workshop because she had a crush on a boy in the class. One of the workshop employees also interned for New World, the production studio responsible for Hellraiser. She asked if Laurence would audition for the lead role, since they were having a hard time finding the right actress for the part. Even though New World wanted a big name for the feature, Clive Barker was so impressed by Laurence’s audition that he fought for her to get the role. Her big break would also leave a lasting impact on movie history!
Based on Clive Barker’s novella “The Hellbound Heart,” Hellraiser is about a girl named Kirsty Cotton (Laurence) who moves in with her boyfriend close to where her father, Larry, and her new stepmother, Julia, live. What Kirsty doesn’t know is that Julia has been cheating on Larry with his brother, Frank. When Frank discovers an unusual puzzle box, he solves it and unleashes the Cenobites–a group of torture-happy sex demons who feast upon human pain. The Cenobites kill Frank, but Julia attempts to bring him back to life by feeding him human prey. When Kirsty finally figures out what is going on, she is able to go full final girl on the Cenobites, but loses a great deal in the process.
Kirsty Cotton’s Legacy
Laurence tackled the role of Kirsty with an intense combination of fear, anger, frustration, love, and power, solidifying her status as one of the most iconic final girls of all time. Not only does she battle dozens of otherworldly BDSM hell monsters, but she survives every time. Even the great Laurie Strode has been killed by Michael Myers at least once!
As only one of two characters to survive against the sadomasochistic Pinhead, Kirsty is frequently ranked amongst the most beloved scream queens in horror cinema. And we have Ashley Laurence to thank for bringing such a wonderful character to life!
What did Ashley Laurence do after Hellraiser?
Following the success of Hellraiser, Laurence reprised the role of Kirsty in three sequels: Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and Hellraiser: Hellseeker. But during the fifteen years between these sequels, she continued other acting interests!
Beyond the Hellraiser series, Laurence has demonstrated her considerable versatility as an actor by taking genre-spanning roles in movies like Red, The Real Thing, Warlock III, and The Green Fairy. She has lent her voice to a number of animated works and video games including JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Fans might even be surprised to find Laurence in music videos for Kevn Kinney and Slipknot.
Throughout her career, Laurence has shown up in dozens of TV movies and series including Beverly Hills 90210, ER, Suddenly Susan, and Hercules. In 2021, Laurence returned to her horror roots for an episode of Shudder’s Creepshow called “Pesticide” in which she plays a sketchy family therapist opposite Josh McDermitt and Keith David.
Laurence considers her role in Lightning Bug to be her best yet (although we think she killed it as the Geico Gecko’s love interest in a popular 2002 commercial). Released in 2004, the film tells the story of Jenny Graves, a mother who leaves an abusive marriage and moves to Alabama to start a new life. Unfortunately, her new husband also exhibits signs of rage and violence. Laurence’s dramatic acting abilities are put on full display as she channels Jenny’s deep pain and love for her children.
What is Ashley Laurence doing now?
Laurence is very passionate about oil painting, and has spent several decades perfecting her craft. She also approaches her acting work as if she’s painting–by adding layers to a character until the whole picture is complete.
Over the course of the last twenty years, Laurence contributed to many horror documentaries and series that discuss Hellraiser. Most recently, she was interviewed about the film on Eli Roth’s Masters of Horror and The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.
Although she is not currently involved in any acting projects, in 2022 she provided the voice of Aurak in three episodes of Netflix’s anime series, Dota: Dragon’s Blood. There are sure to be many more exciting projects in her future!
Laurence likes to keep to herself outside of acting. As such, there is no information available about her personal life.