(Originally posted on DARKWORLDS.COM)
At a hefty 6′ 4″, with piercing eyes and a voice that makes Darth Vader sound like a big sissy, Gunnar Hansen at first seems only slightly less intimidating than Leatherface, the mindless, hippie-killing freak he portrayed in Tobe Hooper’s ‘70s horror classic THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. But you don’t have to chat with Hansen for long to realize that this thoughtful actor has little in common with the role that made him famous.
Born in Iceland, Hansen moved to America at the age of five and grew up in Texas. A gentle giant with an academic temperament, Hansen was not far out of graduate school when he auditioned for Hooper and won the role of Leatherface. The character has become an icon in the years since the film’s release, inspiring a figure from McFarlane Toys, comic books, a punk band and a lot of ghastly nightmares for anybody who has ever seen the film. Hansen has stayed active as an actor, but he’s also worked extensively as a writer for film and print while also dabbling in web design.
Hansen was kind enough to chat with us at the 2002 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, answering questions while excited Leatherface fans buzzed around. (Interview for Darkworlds conducted by Greg Stacy.)
DW: Will we see you playing Leatherface again anytime soon?
Hansen: No. They’re making TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 5 right now, actually, and I’m not in it. They offered me a part, but not as Leatherface. I was going to play Ed Guinn’s role from the original picture, the cattle truck driver. I told them I’d be happy to do it, but they’d have to pay me more than scale. So, I’m not in it.
DW: So, is it safe to say you don’t think you’ll ever play the character again?
Hansen: I wouldn’t think I would, no.
DW: Out of everything you’ve done, what role are you the proudest of?
Hansen: Well, I’m very proud of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I think it’s one of the best horror movies. And I’m also pretty happy about MOSQUITO, a movie I co-wrote and starred in a few years ago.
DW: Are there any films you regret?
Hansen: Sure. There was a picture years ago that was just a disaster, the director couldn’t direct because he was too busy in the kitchen trying on his dresses.
DW: Sounds very ED WOOD.
Hansen: It was awful.
DW: Do you have any projects coming up?
Hansen: Right now I’m trying to find funding for a horror parody I wrote with a friend, it’s called THE LAST ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. It’s a parody of a bunch of movies, but in it I parody CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Except instead of Leatherface I’m called Babyface, and the reason he never talks is because he’s always stuffing food in his face. He always seems like he’s ABOUT to talk, but then he just eats a chicken leg or something. I really hope we can get it off the ground. I’m also waiting to see what happens with a project called THE NEXT VICTIM, an anthology film where I play a mental patient in the wrap-around segments. In the meantime, RACHEL’S ATTIC is just coming out on DVD now, so people can go buy that.
DW: Lastly, how do you feel about being so closely associated with the horror genre? Are you comfortable with that, or would you rather work on more mainstream projects?
Hansen: Oh, I’m not one of those actors who are so hung-up on that sort of thing. Really, I consider myself primarily a writer, and for me, movies are just fun.