photo by Charlie Murphy
I think it's a fair assumption that most people know you from
in Texas Chainsaw 3D - so do talk about that movie for a bit, and
what was it like playing such an iconic character?
It became a very surreal experience. It was a very involved thing
to get into the character, and then when it was over, I stood back and
thought, "Holy crap, how'd that happen?" Nobody sets out
to be iconic. The weirdest thing is to see a billboard with
Leatherface looking all menacing and then have someone, as if on cue, ask,
"So, what do you do?" And you can just point. It's pretty
heard you have actually seen the original Texas
Chainsaw Massacre in a drive-in all these years back - what are
your memories of that, and in what way did that influence your
The totality of the undertaking really sank in when Texas Chainsaw 3D
released and I went back to Vegas to see the family. I was feeling
nostalgic (I spent my high school years there) and went to the drive-in
where I saw Texas
in 1981. I saw my movie on the
marquee. I honestly never thought about the original movie while we
were shooting. I was deep into the whole process. I remember
sitting on the hood of a car, trying to take in what was on that screen.
I eventually had to buy the VHS tape. It was an obsession for
How did you get involved with the movie in the first place?
The producer was a friend of mine. I was around during
the development of the script. I hadn't realized I was an
inspiration for what the character should be physically. They
realized in their story meetings that, as they were describing what
Leatherface should look like (big, hulking farm-hand, whose strength and
physical presence came from working, rather than working out) they were
talk about the actual shoot for a bit!
It was over 100
degrees every day that summer in Shreveport. I was lucky in that
Leatherface worked mostly at night. I had never shot in 3D before.
It took us a while to develop a technique for hitting marks,
especially with the chainsaw, to make it look right. 3D is really
time consuming. So many things can go wrong in a take. And
once we did get the shot, it took quite a while to disconnect the 26
cables from each camera and move them to the next setup.
Based on your
experiences on Texas Chainsaw 3D, will you ever return to the
character of Leatherface?
they decide to continue the story we've started, yes, I'll be there.
If they decide to do a prequel, then no.
(other) future projects you'd like to share?
I have a short
and two features in development. The short is based on a true story
of an old man whose cat comes back from the grave called The Gospel of
George. One of the features is called Zombie Bear Attack.
You can guess what that's about. The other is called Brains - a zombiesque action flick about a disease that makes body builders and
winos and religious zealots crave human flesh.
you into acting in the first place, and what can you tell us about your
training as an actor?
I started in Vegas. I went to a
vocational high school and learned architectural drafting, but there were
no extra-curricular activities like sports or drama club. So after
graduation, I had all sorts of pent up need to show off. I joined
the Community Drama Workshop and started to learn the basics of acting.
I also did extra work at that time. I moved to L.A. to do
architecture, but found my way into a few amateur theater projects. I
did the odd workshop, too, but didn't get serious about it as a career
until 2009. I studied with Joel Asher, Frank Tammariello and Jeff
Celentano. I've also taken a few writing courses at AFI and
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Texas Chainsaw 3D?
It was mostly
helping friends make their movies. I did a few commercials through
the years, and extra work way back when. It was inauspicious at
movies, you've also done quite a bit of theatre throughout your career -
so how does performing on stage compare to acting in front of a camera,
and which do you prefer, actually?
There's not a lot of
comparison, other than the development of the character. Once you
have that, stage is a far more direct process of playing it. In
film, it is so technical, that you have to focus on being physically
precise, without looking like you're being physically precise. If
you're off your mark on stage by six inches, nobody cares. You're
not thinking about that so much. If your off your mark in film by an
inch, you can easily blow the shot. I enjoy both processes. I
tend to focus on film more.
How would you
describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your
characters to life?
I tend to play physical roles. It's
a process of becoming comfortable (or uncomfortable, depending on the
character) with who he is physically. Then, I go through the torture
of learning the dialog. Then I forget it and try to discover it in
the moment. It's terrifying to get up there, in front of a camera or
an audience, and not know what's going to happen. But that's also
really the thrill of it as well.
Besides acting, you have also done
quite a bit of writing, right? So what can you tell us about Dan Yeager,
the writer? And do talk about some of your past/present/future writing
projects for a bit!
I must be a masochist, because I find
writing an even greater torture than acting. I'm working on a
screenplay that's a kind of home invasion thriller. I want to shoot
it in my house with my wife. It should be fun, but the writing is a
grind. I have a few other stories I'm working on; some for several
years. I am doing research, which seems to take the most time.
Whenever I get really stuck on the screenplays, I'll pick up my
book, a treatise on the art of bartending, and work on that. If that
doesn't work, I go build something. We have a nice front fence now,
that I built while trying to write Zombie Bear Attack.
Someone also told me you've got
quite a fondness for books - care to elaborate?
collected books since my childhood. I collect mainly the artifact of
the book itself. I love old bindings. I have thousands. Last
time we moved, they filled over 160 banker's boxes. Brains
yielded a library in our current house. My oldest book is a French
Bible concordance from 1552. I also have quite a few hundred volumes
printed by Roycroft, an American publisher from the late 19th/early 20th
writers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?
Kubrick is the best represented director in my DVD collection. Peter
Bogdanovich made one of my favorite movies, Paper Moon. David
Lean, Akira Kurosawa, Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, W.C. Fields (It's
a Gift) [W.C. Fields bio
- click here], Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin, Billy Wilder; I could go on. James
Whale's two Frankenstein movies and
The Old Dark House are
wonderful. I think Truman Capote was the greatest American writer.
The Brits still haven't topped Shakespeare, though there are many
other English greats. Twain was no slouch with a pen. My
favorite poet is probably Robert Frost because I'm just a sentimental
fool. This was a can of worms you opened with this question.
Beside those mentioned above, I'd say: Yojimbo,
Laughing Gravy, Min and Bill, Grand Illusion, All That
Jazz, Jaws, Alien,
Chainsaw Massacre, Metropolis, Night of the Living
Dead, Count Yorga
Vampire, Slingblade, Cool Hand Luke, The
Hustler, Marty, Girls Will Be Girls, Amadeus, Le
Mans, A Fistful of
Dollars, The Shining,
The Matrix, THX1138... This list is by no means exhaustive.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I used to say that Tarzan The Apeman with
Bo Derek was the worst movie I'd ever seen. Her acting was so bad
(there was really nothing she could do with that script) that it made it
impossible to even enjoy her nudity; but then I saw that terrible thing
Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jone did called The Haunting. That
was a steaming pile of movie that should never have been made. Other
than those, I've always found something redeeming in every movie I've
seen. I have a DVD of Bitches Taste Good. It's
terrible, but I love the title.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
@danleatherface on Twitter
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
you for all the great questions. I hope I answered them all adequately
without droning on too long. Support your local bookstores and
for the interview!