Once More, with Gore
Hansen—who came to Maine at the age of 5 from his native Iceland with his divorced mother and older brother—became Leatherface almost by chance. In 1973 he had finished an M.A. in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Texas, where he had acted in a few student productions. An acquaintance told him he was perfect for a horror film then in the works. Days later he met director Tobe Hooper and screenwriter Kim Henkel. "They said, 'Are you violent?' I said no. 'Are you crazy?' No. 'Can you do it?' Yes."
A handful of B roles followed, but Hansen returned to Maine in 1975 to concentrate on writing. He is the author of the forthcoming book Islands at the Edge of Time, an account of barrier-island life, and is currently coauthoring a book about Texas mass murderer Henry Lee Lucas.
Hansen doesn't expect his life to change when Leatherface re-emerges this month. His take was $2,800 the first time around, and with the small cut he'll earn from the reissue, "I may get enough to take a friend out to dinner," he says. As for attracting a new generation of Leatherface fans, he's not interested. "People come up and say, 'Didn't you used to be Gunnar Hansen?' " He laughs. "I say, 'Yeah, I still am.' "