Leatherface Actor Dead at 68

Gunnar Hansen, who played the iconic serial killer Leatherface in the 1974 seminal horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, died this past weekend at his home in Maine, from pancreatic cancer. He was 68 and survived by Betty Tower, his partner of 13 years.

Hansen was born in Iceland and moved to the United States as a kid. He attended the University of Texas where he met Tobe Hooper who cast him as Leatherface in his low budget slasher movie, which has influenced almost everybody and resulted in a franchise.

After Texas Chain Saw, Hansen moved toward writing and editing. He wrote a book Chainsaw Confidential in 2013 about his experience making The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and at the time of his death, he was working on a new film Death House about a prison break at a secret government facility. His agent Mike Eisenstadt says the film will be produced posthumously.

I only saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre for the first time last month, sacrilege if you’re a “movie person” and was particularly struck by Hansen’s performance. I totally misinterpreted the film (maybe) and felt sorry for Leatherface, and that was completely owed to the way Hansen moved and inhabited the character. At the same time he was scary as s**t. Not an easy task.

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