Gunnar Hansen

Last updated

Gunnar Hansen
Gunnar Hansen photographed by Ryota Nakanishi (cropped).jpg
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).

Iceland island republic in Northern Europe

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 357,050 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

Leatherface fictional character in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series

Leatherface is a main character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series of horror films and spin-offs created by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper. He wears masks made of human skin and engages in murder and cannibalism, alongside his insane family. Leatherface appeared in the original film in 1974 and also in its six subsequent continuations and the remake. Wisconsin killer Ed Gein, who wore a mask made of human skin, was reportedly the inspiration for elements in the original film. He is considered the main antagonist of the franchise because of his presence in all films, although he takes orders from his older family members.

<i>The Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> 1974 US horror film directed by Tobe Hooper

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a 1974 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and written and co-produced by Hooper and Kim Henkel. It stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar Hansen, who respectively portray Sally Hardesty, Franklin Hardesty, the hitchhiker, the proprietor, and Leatherface. The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead. Although it was marketed as a true story to attract a wider audience and as a subtle commentary on the era's political climate, its plot is entirely fictional. However, the character of Leatherface and minor plot details were inspired by the crimes of real-life murderer Ed Gein.


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.

Reykjavík Capital and largest city in Iceland

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxa Bay. Its latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. With a population of around 128,793, it is the heart of Iceland's cultural, economic and governmental activity, and is a popular tourist destination.

Maine State of the United States of America

Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Maine is the 12th smallest by area, the 9th least populous, and the 38th most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. It is bordered by New Hampshire to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest respectively. Maine is the easternmost state in the contiguous United States, and the northernmost state east of the Great Lakes. It is known for its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; and picturesque waterways, as well as its seafood cuisine, especially lobster and clams. There is a humid continental climate throughout most of the state, including in coastal areas such as its most populous city of Portland. The capital is Augusta.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,115,827 as of July 1, 2017. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.


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 .

<i>The Hills Have Eyes</i> (1977 film) 1977 American exploitation-horror film directed by Wes Craven

The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 American horror film written, directed, and edited by Wes Craven and starring Susan Lanier, Michael Berryman and Dee Wallace. The film follows the Carters, a suburban family targeted by a family of cannibal savages after becoming stranded in the Nevada desert.

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, Including Texas Chainsaw 3D as one of the Sawyers. 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.

<i>Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers</i> 1988 film by Fred Olen Ray

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is a 1988 American comedy horror B-movie directed by Fred Olen Ray, and starring Gunnar Hansen, Linnea Quigley, Jay Richardson and Michelle Bauer.

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.

<i>Chain Saw Confidential</i> book by Gunnar Hansen

Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie is a 2013 non-fiction book by the actor Gunnar Hansen, who is best known for portraying Leatherface in the 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The book was first released on September 24, 2013 through Chronicle Books and covers the making of the iconic slasher film.


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
2017 Death House FatherCameo

As self

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2</i> 1986 film by Tobe Hooper

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a 1986 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper. It serves as a sequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, also directed and co-written by Hooper. It was written by L. M. Kit Carson and produced by Carson, Yoram Globus, Menahem Golan and Hooper. Starring Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Bill Moseley and Jim Siedow, the plot follows a radio host victimized and captured by Leatherface and his cannibalistic family while a former Texas Marshall hunts them down.

Marilyn Burns actress

Marilyn Burns was an American actress. While in high school, Burns made her film debut as a tour guide in Robert Altman's experimental comedy film Brewster McCloud (1970), followed by minor appearances in low-budget independent films where her scenes were ultimately deleted such as Sidney Lumet's drama film Lovin' Molly (1974).

<i>Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III</i> 1990 film by Jeff Burr

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is a 1990 American slasher film directed by Jeff Burr. The film is the sequel to the 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the 1986 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. The third installment of the series, it stars Kate Hodge, William Butler, Ken Foree, Tom Hudson, Viggo Mortensen, Joe Unger, and R.A. Mihailoff.

<i>Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation</i> 1994 film by Kim Henkel

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a 1994 American slasher film written and directed by Kim Henkel, and starring Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, and Robert Jacks as Leatherface. The plot follows four teenagers who encounter Leatherface and his murderous family in backwoods Texas on the night of their prom. It is the fourth installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, and also features uncredited cameo appearances from Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, and John Dugan, all stars of the original film.

<i>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre</i> (2003 film) 2003 US horror film directed by Marcus Nispel

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a 2003 American slasher film directed by Marcus Nispel, written by Scott Kosar, and starring Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour and R. Lee Ermey. Its plot follows a group of young adults traveling through rural Texas who encounter Leatherface and his murderous family. It is a remake of Tobe Hooper's 1974 film of the same name, and the fifth installment in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Several crew members of the original film were involved with the project: Hooper and writer Kim Henkel served as co-producers; Daniel Pearl returned as cinematographer; and John Larroquette reprised his voice narration for the opening intertitles.

Andrew Bryniarski American actor and bodybuilder

Andrew Bryniarski is an American actor and former bodybuilder, best known for portraying Leatherface in the remake of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Zangief in Street Fighter, and Steve Lattimer in The Program.

<i>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre</i> (franchise) film series

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an American horror franchise consisting of eight slasher films, comics, and a video game adaptation of the original film. The franchise focuses on serial killer Leatherface and his psychotic family, who terrorize unsuspecting visitors to their territories in the desolate Texas countryside, typically killing and cannibalizing them. The original film was released in 1974, directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Hooper and Kim Henkel. Hooper and Henkel were involved in only three of the later films.

Sally Hardesty

Sally Hardesty is a fictional character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. She was portrayed by actress Marilyn Burns in the original film series and Jessica Biel in the 2003 remake, in which she was renamed Erin Hardesty. Introduced in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), after a series of grave robberies, Hardesty, her paraplegic brother Franklin, and their friends travel across Texas to investigate upon hearing reports that her grandfather's grave may have been vandalized. She subsequently appears in the sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) as a patient on a gurney.

Kim David Henkel is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and actor. He is best known as the co-writer of Tobe Hooper's horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Teri McMinn American actress

Teri McMinn is an American actress and model, known for her role as Pam in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

<i>Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre</i> 2009 film by Júlíus Kemp

Reykjavík Whale Watching massacre or RWWM is an Icelandic 2009 horror film.

Texas Chainsaw House

The Texas Chainsaw House is located in Kingsland, Texas, on the grounds of The Antlers Hotel. This 1900s Victorian house was featured prominently in the 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as the home of Leatherface and his cannibalistic family, before it was moved to this location from Williamson County in 1998. The then-dilapidated farm house originally sat on Quick Hill Road during the July-August 1973 filming of the movie, then sat vacant and deteriorating. The original site is where La Frontera is now located, in Round Rock.

<i>Texas Chainsaw 3D</i> 2013 film by John Luessenhop

Texas Chainsaw is a 2013 American 3D slasher film directed by John Luessenhop, with a screenplay by Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms and a story by Stephen Susco, Marcus and Sullivan. It is the seventh installment in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and was presented in 3D. The film serves as a direct sequel to the 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The film stars Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Trey Songz, Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood, Thom Barry, Paul Rae and Bill Moseley, with Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns, who had appeared in the original 1974 film. The story centers on Heather, who discovers that she was adopted after learning of an inheritance from a long-lost grandmother. She subsequently takes a road trip with her friends to collect the inheritance, unaware that it includes her cousin, Leatherface, as well. Filming began in the summer of July 2011, and it was released January 4, 2013.

<i>Leatherface</i> (2017 film) 2016 film by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo

Leatherface is a 2017 American horror film directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, written by Seth M. Sherwood, and starring Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Grasse, Sam Strike, and Lili Taylor. It is the eighth film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM) franchise, and works as a prequel to 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, explaining the origin of the series' lead character.

Dan Yeager is an American actor, art director, writer, producer and director who is known for his portrayal of the fictional canabilistic killer Leatherface in the 2013 American slasher film Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013).

Robert A. Burns was an American art director and production designer who worked on many films including The Texas Chain saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Re-Animator, and From Beyond.


  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 ]