Iconic actor of the cult classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre has died at the age of 68.
Gunnar Hansen, the man who donned the mask of human skin for the 1974 adaptation of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, died on Saturday, November 7, 2015, after suffering from pancreatic cancer. His last hours were spent at his home in Maine with his family.
Hansen was born in 1947 in Reykjavik, Iceland, and moved to the United States when he was only 5-years-old. As a child, he lived in Maine until he was 11-years-old, before his family relocated to Texas. He did not intend to become the iconic cult icon that he was, instead graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English and mathematics. He later went on to receive his graduate degree in English studies after moving back to Scandinavia. After graduation, he went on to work with computers and as a bouncer in a bar.
In 1973, he heard news that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was looking for actors for the movie that would be filmed in Austin, and figured he would try out for a role. As is now cinematic history, Hansen received the role of Leatherface.
Despite playing roles in other movies, Gunnar Hansen will be forever remembered as the horrific villain, Leatherface. His psychopathic mindset and unforgiving nature of his murderous lust, presented the cinematic horror universe with a character that is unmatched, even today. He represented the internal fear that everyone has when encountering a strange and unknown place, the fear that makes you look around corners before making the turn, and the fear that makes you leery of a new and unfamiliar place. He was the fear within all of us, only personified on the big screen.
Other movies that Hansen starred in were The Demon Lover, Exploding Angel, Chainsaw Sally, and many more. He also appeared as himself in movies such as Terror in the Aisles, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth, and Leatherface Speaks: An Informal Interview with Gunnar Hansen.
Hansen turned down a role for another cult classic horror movie, The Hills Have Eyes, instead opting to move from Austin to Maine to focus on his own writing career.
According to the BBC, Hansen’s publicist shared that he released Chain Saw Confidential in 2013, chronicling the behind the scenes action of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s creation. He also published The Edge of Time, which detailed Hansen’s trip from through the Barrier Islands from Texas all the way to North Carolina.
Hansen’s performance in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre frightened fans into wanting more time with Leatherface on screen, although Hansen only portrayed Leatherface in the original movie. Sequels went on to star R. A. Mihailoff, Bill Johnson, Robert Jacks, Andrew Byrniarski, Dan Yeager, and Sam Strike. In all, six sequels were made, along with reboot of the series in 2003.
Gunnar Hansen is survived by his 13-year partner, Betty Tower, and countless fans that are mourning his passing today.
Rest in peace, Gunnar Hansen, your mark on the horror industry has inspired a multitude of writers to follow their dreams.
[Photo via Wikimedia]