Gunnar Hansen, the actor who played The Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘s iconic villain Leatherface, has died at the age of 68.
Hansen was born in Iceland but moved to the US as a child and went on to study English at the University of Texas. He auditioned to play mentally impaired villain Leatherface shortly after graduating in 1973 and, after landing the part, he apparently visited children with special needs as research for the role.
Hansen left acting behind after making a second film, The Demon Lover, deciding instead to forge a career as a writer. He turned down a part in 1977’s classic The Hills Have Eyes, but returned to acting in 1988 with a lead role in the spoof horror movie Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.
He continued to take on roles for the remainder of his life, often appearing in low-budget horror films or spoofs. In 2013, he published a book called Chain Saw Confidential, which chronicled the making of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Hansen died on Saturday after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his agent confirmed. He is survived by his partner of 13 years, Betty Tower.