I know Gunnar Hansen was hidden behind a mask the whole movie, but the creepiest thing about Leatherface in that first TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was how human he could be when stressed out. The squeals, shrieks, high-pitched murmurs, and disturbingly funny pantomime that made up Hansen’s performance as Leatherface tried to explain why he had to saw apart the front door to the house and kept having to knock random teenagers over the head with a hammer (He didn’t know what to do–they just kept showing up!) made that character strangely identifiable to the audience. He was certainly the only member of that film’s twisted family of villains who approached being sympathetic.
Hansen only played Leatherface in that first film and his presence behind the mask was sorely missed in the increasingly awful sequels and reboots that followed. There were other actors who could replicate his bulk, but there were none able to match the humanity Hansen brought to a character who became iconic because he made him human.