In the introduction you say you want to dispel the myth that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was made by stoned crazies. I’m not sure you entirely make that case.
You’re right. There was a bit of smoking that went on. Everyone says, ”Oh yeah, it was terrible — I was the one who didn’t smoke.” Of course, we weren’t crazies, except, by the end of it, we had been driven crazy.
You became so deranged by the infamously arduous shoot you decided to kill lead actress Marilyn Burns.
I got the impression Tobe [Hooper, Chainsaw’s director] had this idea about acting — that it had to be real to look real. I was skeptical. But as it turned out, the whole experience was so overpowering that by the end of the film, I just lost any sense. Luckily, when I moved toward her to kill her, that movement made me realize where I was. But it was a frightening moment.
Why didn’t you play Leatherface in any of the Chainsaw sequels?
We could never come to terms. [On Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2] they offered me scale plus 10 percent. I said, ”What’s the 10 percent for?” and they said, ”For your agent.” I said, ”I don’t have an agent.” After about two weeks they lowered the offer. I said, ”Why is it lower?” They said, ”Because you don’t have an agent you don’t need that 10 percent.”
Do you actually meet a lot of people who insist Leatherface is real?
When I explain there was no Leatherface, many of them become very angry at me. You see somebody’s eyes roll back and you’re thinking, ”Oh my God, they’re about to go into demon mode!” In those cases I just back off and go, ”Well, who knows?”