Gunnar Hansen and Leatherface. Photos by Getty Images/Everett Collection.
Leatherface is a Poet with Two Graduate Degrees
1. Before Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers helped solidify the slasher film as a bona fide genre, Leatherface was making his bones as the original masked madman. We know enough about Leatherface to fill seven films, but what about the original man behind the leather mask, Gunnar Hansen? Back in 1973, when he was earning his first graduate degree in Scandinavian Studies, Hansen found out writer/director Tobe Hooper still needed someone to play the killer in his low budget horror film. “I had been in some plays in college, so I tried out and got the part, figuring it would be a much better summer job than tending bar or pounding nails,” Hansen writes on his website. But the 6’4” Hansen never really wanted to be a movie star in the first place, he wanted to be a writer. Hansen turned down a role in Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977) to concentrate on his craft. He also returned to school to get another graduate degree in English. Over the years, Hansen realized he could accomplish both acting and writing, banging out screenplays, books, and poetry while appearing in over 20 films including a role in “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” the latest iteration of the franchise he helped make famous.