Gentler than his iconic horror villain counterpart Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, actor Gunner Hansen passed away Saturday evening after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Confirmation was made earlier this morning by Gunner’s agent, Mike Eisenstadt. Hansen was at his home in Northeast Harbor, Main at the time of his death.
Born in 1946 in Reykjavík, Iceland, Hansen moved to the United States at the age of five to Maine. At age 11, his family would settle in Texas. A University of Texas graduate, Hansen would meet director Tobe Hooper upon earning his Masters degree in Scandinavian Studies and English. As they would say, the rest is history.
Aside from acting, Hansen had a career as a writer and editor after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s initial release. It wasn’t until 1988 when he would regain his itch for acting where he would go on to star in over 20 films, mainly consisting of low-budget horror titles such as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Mosquito, and Swarm of the Snakehead. In 2013, Hansen published a book entitled, “Chainsaw Confidential,” an overview of his work on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre wherein he revealed his salary for the film was only $400.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre certainly left its mark in history, laying the foundation for three sequels, two remakes, and a prequel; films which have starred the likes of Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Biel, Alexandria Daddario, R. Lee Ermey, Dennis Hopper, Viggo Mortensen, Scott Eastwood, Jordana Brewster, and Matt Bomer.
It wasn’t until after I watched 2003’s remake, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that I came became enamored in the franchise and fell in love with Tobe Hooper’s classic. It will go down as one of my all-time favorite movies.
Eisenstadt also stated that Hansen’s original screenplay, Death House, will be moving into production next year in Hansen’s memory. The film is centered around a secret government facility that becomes ground zero for a terrifying prison break.
Gunner Hansen was 68 when he died.