On Nov. 7, the horror world lost a genuine icon, and a genuinely nice guy, when Gunnar Hansen died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 68. Hansen was, of course, famous for his unforgettable portrayal of Leatherface in director Tobe Hooper’s original 1974 shocker, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But he always thought of himself more as a writer than an actor and in 2014 published a fascinating memoir about the production of Hooper’s film and its subsequent impact on the culture called Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie.
“I thought about the book on and off for a long time and I never did it because I realized my concept was too small,” Hansen told this writer at the time. “I thought of it as an account of my experience making the movie and I realized I had to make it bigger than that. The first decision I made was to interview everyone involved with the movie that I could find. That would give it more depth because we would have several perspectives on an event but also make it broader because they could talk about things I was not witness to. And then the second decision I made was I wanted the context of the book to be bigger. I wanted to talk about how elements of the filming were indicative of issues in small budget filmmaking but also I wanted to talk about the critical and popular response to Chainsaw at first, and how it has evolved, and what its place is in horror.”
In addition to penning the book, Hansen also recorded an audiobook version, which is available to buy from Audible. Below, you can hear an excerpt in which he recalls how he secured the role of Leatherface and how he then prepared to play the soon-to-be-legendary masked killer.