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Icelandic actor behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre villain Leatherface has passed away

By Staff

  • "Icelandic horror star in the US" Icelandic media was surprised to learn the man behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface was Icelandic. This, however, did not change their view of the film, which received only two stars. Photo/vísir.is

Gunnar Hansen, actor and author, died on Saturday at his home in Maine in the United States. Gunnar, who died of cancer, was 68 years old. Gunnar is probably the best known Icelandic Hollywood actor of all times. 

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Gunnar Hansen Photo/Vísir/Getty Images

Gunnar was born in Reykjavík in 1947, but moved to the US with his parents when he was seven years old. In 1974 Gunnar starred in a small independent movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as the notorious cannibalistic mass murderer Leatherface. The movie is widely considered to be one of the most gruesome horror movie ever made, and has long since become a cult classic. Gunnar played in at least 20 other movies, mostly minor roles in horror movies. None of his other film appearances measured up to his 1974 debut. One of Gunnar’s last appearances was in the Icelandic horror movie, Reykjavík Whale Watching Massacre (2009).

Gunnar’s debut on the white screen did not receive high marks from Icelandic critics. The movie received only two stars from the movie critic of the local newspaper Vísir. Only later did Icelandic media discover Gunnar was Icelandic. This, however, did not improve their view of the movie, and the movie critic of Vísir remarked it was a shame that the first Icelander to play a major role in a Hollywood movie had not been cast in a more respectable role. 

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