‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ Leatherface Actor Made Only $800 for the Original Film

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the most revered horror classics of all time. The movie, which featured largely unknown actors, debuted in 1974 and was extremely successful, becoming engrained in pop culture. Although the movie made millions, the actor who played Leatherface, the menacing killer, made only $800 for the film.

Leatherface actor received $800 for his work on ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’

texas chain saw massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, poster, British poster art, Gunnar Hansen, 1974. | LMPC via Getty Images

When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper banded his crew together in the Central Texas heat, no one knew that whatever they were about to make would go down as one of the best yet goriest horror films to have ever been made.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a group of friends who become the victims of a family of cannibals during their trip to an old homestead. Through an Austin politician, Hooper was able to make the iconic movie with only $60,000 as his budget. While anyone would have killed for that kind of funding in 1973, the amount was still little compared to other horror movies like Halloween, which were made for five times the amount.

The shoestring budget meant the cast and crew couldn’t get huge paychecks. To make matters worse, the shoot was harrowing as they had to film in the hot Texas weather in the summer, share a single bathroom, and use rotting meat as props.

Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen had to wear the same costume as there wasn’t a budget for wardrobe. According to Today, the film’s cast members earned $200 weekly for their work. Hansen took home $800 but had to work 12 to 16 hours a day for seven days. “I would have made more money if I’d worked in McDonald’s those numbers of hours,” Hansen later remarked.

What did Gunnar Hansen think of the 2003 ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ reboot?

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre got a remake in 2003, but it didn’t sit well with Hansen. The role of Leatherface defined and sculpted Hansen’s career, so it makes sense why he would have opinions on his breakout role.

The actor told IGN in 2006 that modern horror movies are too ironic for their own good. He also opened up about how he felt about the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, saying, “Well, on a number of levels, I wasn’t happy about it.”

Hansen said he was disappointed with the remake because it compared itself to the original. The portrayer also took issue with the unmasking of his character, claiming it no longer made him mysterious. “I think the reason he’s such an appealing and frightening character is because, in the movie, he’s almost human but not quite,” he said.

“Now he’s merely a young guy who had a skin condition as a kid and is taking revenge, so he’s really reduced once you do that,” Hansen added. The actor also claimed the filmmakers made a bloodbath despite claiming they would make “a dark psychological horror movie.”

How the Netflix movie ties into the original one

Related

‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Set Had to Mop Up Blood to Avoid ‘Dangerous’ Conditions

A 2022 Netflix sequel follows a group of young adults as they visit a remote town in Texas for business. However, they meet Leatherface, who’s resurfaced and is out for blood, so they have to fight for their lives.

While the Netflix movie introduces new characters, it features an appearance by Leatherface’s sole survivor, Sally, who helps the young adults try to end Leatherface’s reign of terror. The film was released on February 18, 2022, to negative reviews. It currently holds a 31% score on Rotten Tomatoes.