Entertainment & Arts

Gunnar Hansen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre villain, dies aged 68

Gunnar Hansen Image copyright AP
Image caption He starred in the 1974 classic horror film as the killer wielding a chain saw

Gunnar Hansen, the actor who played terrifying villain Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, has died.

The Icelandic-born actor, 68, died on Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Maine, US, his agent said.

The 1974 film depicts how five friends visiting their grandfather's country house are hunted by Leatherface and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.

Hansen's character is "one of the most iconic evil figures in the history of cinema," said agent Mike Eisenstadt.

Keen naturalist

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, went on to become a classic slasher film, which features a psychopath murdering several victims.

Six sequels were made, most recently in 2013 with Texas Chainsaw 3D.

Fans on Twitter rushed to pay their respects, and Grvyrd Shift Sisters tweeted: "I've gotten a chance to hear Gunnar Hansen talk at horror cons a few times. So funny, witty, and engaging."

The British Film Institute added: "We're sad to hear that Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, has passed away."

Reykjavik-born Hansen moved to the US when he studied English and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Texas,

His agent said that Hansen published his book, Chain Saw Confidential, in 2013, detailing behind-the-scenes information on how the film was made. In it he revealed that the inspirations behind the film had included the fairytale Hansel and Gretel.

Hansen, a keen naturalist, also published Islands at the Edge of Time in 1993, depicting his journey along America's barrier islands from Texas to North Carolina.

He is survived by his partner of 13 years, Betty Tower.

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