Gunnar Hansen

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Gunnar Hansen
Hansen at Days of the Dead in Indianapolis, Indiana, 2012
Gunnar Milton Hansen

(1947-03-04)March 4, 1947
Reykjavík, Iceland
DiedNovember 7, 2015(2015-11-07) (aged 68)
Northeast Harbor, Maine, United States [1]
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin
Years active1973–2014

Gunnar Milton Hansen (March 4, 1947 – November 7, 2015) was an Icelandic-born American actor and author best known for playing the mentally impaired cannibal Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).


Early life

Hansen was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, and moved to the United States when he was five years old. He lived in Maine until age eleven, when his family moved to Austin, Texas, where he attended both Austin High School and the University of Texas at Austin. He majored in English and mathematics as an undergraduate and then went to graduate school in Scandinavian Studies and English.


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 audition. 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 appeared in 20 films since. He considered his later acting as a side project and continued to write books. He also wrote film scripts and wrote and directed 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 taught college as an adjunct instructor.


His agent stated Hansen died at his home in Northeast Harbor, Maine from pancreatic cancer on November 7, 2015 at the age of 68. [2] [3]


Film and television
1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Leatherface
1977The Demon LoverProf. Peckinpah
1988 Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers The Stranger
1991 Campfire Tales Ralph
1995 Mosquito Earl
FreakshowFreakmaster Direct-to-video
Exploding AngelWalter
1996RepligatorDr. Kildare
1999Hellblock 13The ExecutionerDirect-to-video
2002 Hatred of a Minute Barry
WitchunterMichael JonesDirect-to-video
Rachel's AtticRonald
SinisterThe PiperShort film
2003Next VictimDoctor Howard(segment "rehabilitation Center")
2004The BusinessGrandfatherShort film, direct-to-video
Chainsaw SallyDaddy
Murder-Set-Pieces Mechanic
2005WolfsbayneThe Elder
Apocalypse and the Beauty QueenReggie
2006 Swarm of the Snakehead Gunner
The DeepeningDr. Chambers
2007Brutal Massacre: A ComedyKrenshaw
Gimme SkelterPorter Sandford
2009Won Ton Baby!Dr. Kurt Severson
It Came from TrafalgarTex Ghoul
Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre Captain Pétur
2013 Texas Chainsaw 3D Boss Sawyer; Leatherface (archive footage)Cameo, final role

As self

See also


  1. Associated Press "Gunnar Hansen, killer of 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' dies" Associated Press via The State Columbia, SC November 8, 2015. [ permanent dead link ]
  2. 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' Actor Gunnar Hansen Dies at 68
  3. Associated Press staff, "Gunnar Hansen, killer of 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' dies," Associated Press via Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, Tx) accessed at 3:56 am November 8, 2015.[ permanent dead link ]