It is Cult Faction’s sad duty to report that the orginal “Leatherface”
Gunnar Hansen has died at age 68 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Hansen, who was born in Reykjavik, Iceland and moved to the U.S. at age 5, his first job out of high school was as a computer operator, before he began theater work during college. He was also a football player during high school, and for a while a bar bouncer. In 1973, just after finishing graduate school, Hansen heard that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was being filmed in Austin and decided to try out. He got the part of Leatherface, the masked killer in the movie. Hansen apparently visited and studied children with special needs to determine mannerisms for Leatherface.
After the success of the movie, Hansen co-starred in Demon Lover, but after the experience he decided not to continue acting, instead pursuing a writing career. In 1975, after one extra year of graduate school, Hansen moved back to Maine and started writing. During this time he rejected a part he was offered in the cult horror film The Hills Have Eyes.
After writing (and occasionally editing) for magazines and writing books, Hansen returned to acting in 1988, appearing in the horror spoof Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, and has appeared in 20 films since. He considers his recent acting as a side project and has continued to write books. He has also written film scripts, and writes and directs documentary films.
Hansen was also an author; his nonfiction travel memoir, Islands at the Edge of Time, A journey to America’s Barrier Islands, was published in 1993. In 2013 he wrote the nonfiction book Chain Saw Confidential, which focuses on the making and reception for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In addition, he has taught college as an adjunct instructor.
He once said that when people met him, they often reacted in shock because he was so unlike the psychotic character from the classic horror film.