Thomas Hewitt AKA Leatherface Edit
Leatherface is a fictional character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre horror-film series. One of the first slasher film villains, he has appeared in all six of the series' films since the release of the original, in 1974. The character wears masks made of human skin (a practice which led to his name) and engages in cannibalism.
In the series, he often uses a chainsaw and sledgehammer to slaughter his victims. He lives with a family of fellow cannibals and serial killers, who are often abusive and violent towards him. The character was loosely inspired by serial killer Ed Gein, who also wore the skin of his victims.
Original Series Edit
Originally, Gunnar Hansen played the character. Leatherface's official real name apparently resembles "Bubba Sawyer"; his older brother Chop Top calls him "Bubba" in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 — probably using a nickname. One presumes he shares the surname 'Sawyer' with his older brothers though in the third film he is simply called 'Jr.' by his family with his first name never mentioned.
The original film never shows Leatherface without one of his human-flesh masks on. He differs from other movie killers in that the films portray him not so much as sadistic or evil but as mentally retarded. Most of the time he only does what his family tells him to do. Hansen has stated that Leatherface is "completely under the control of his family. He'll do whatever they tell him to do. He's a little bit afraid of them." In the documentary The Shocking Truth, Tobe Hooper portrays Leatherface as a "big baby" who kills in self-defense because he feels threatened, pointing out that in the first film Leatherface is actually frightened of all the new people entering his house.
Leatherface's family processes the people he kills into barbecue and chili, which his oldest brother, Drayton Sawyer then sells at his restaurant / gas station the "Last Chance" gas station, and at cook-offs. Aside from Leatherface and Drayton, the Sawyer clan includes two more brothers, Nubbins Sawyer and Bo Sawyer, as well as Grandpa, Grandma and Great-Grandma (real names unknown).
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 a direct sequel to the 1974 film, has more campy and over-the-top atmosphere than the original. Tobe Hooper said on The Shocking Truth that he wanted to expand on the dark comedy in the original film, an element that he felt no one truly picked up on. In this film, Leatherface develops a "crush" on one of his victims, and in one scene, skins off the face of her friend (while alive) and places it on her to hide her from the rest of his family. At the end of the film, he apparently dies in an explosion after being impaled with a chainsaw in a fight with the uncle of his previous victims from the first film.
With Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III the filmmakers attempted to make the series darker and grittier (much as the film-makers of the original had intended), but interventions from the MPAA quashed their vision and had them tone it down and change the ending. An uncut version was released in 2003. Leatherface has a different family and a daughter in this film, possibly from a rape. A four-issue comic series based on the film, entitled Leatherface was also created; notably, portions of the comics are narrated by and shown from Leatherface's point of view.
In Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation Leatherface appears, inexplicably, not as a cannibal but as a pizza-eating transvestite involved in an Illuminati conspiracy to provide society a source of horror, and again, with a different family
Remake Series Edit
A remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre appeared in 2003. Its success greenlit a prequel, released in 2006, which delved into the origins of Leatherface and of his sadistic and cannibalistic family. In this continuity, Leatherface has the name Thomas Brown Hewitt; his mother Sloane (last name and the identity of his father unknown) dies giving birth to him on at the meat factory where she works, and the mother's uncaring boss leaves the infant to die in a dumpster. Luda May Hewitt finds him and takes him home to raise him. Says producer Brad Fuller, "The Hewitts raise Leatherface as their own. But in a lot of ways, Thomas Hewitt is more like a pet than a member of the family. At the same time, they do love and admire one another, albeit in peculiar and unusual ways."
Leatherface in this continuity suffers from a facial disfigurement and a skin disease that eats away most of his nose. Due to this disfigurement, his muteness and mental retardation (carried over from the first series), Hewitt is bullied as a child. He wears a small leather mask to cover up his deformity, and works at the same meat factory where he was born. He also has a tendency toward self-mutilation, and is diagnosed with mental degeneration at age 12.
After health inspectors close the factory down, Hewitt is ordered to leave by his boss and a co-worker. When Hewitt doesn't, his boss and co-worker bully him and call him a "retard" and a "dumb animal". Acting on a long-burning rage, Hewitt kills his boss (the more cruel of the two) with a sledgehammer, and discovers a chainsaw in the factory for later use. When Winston Hoyt, the local sheriff, tries to apprehend him, Thomas' uncle Charles "Charlie" Hewitt jr comes to his aid by killing the sheriff; Charlie later assumes the sheriff's identity.
Hewitt later makes a mask out of human skin by slicing off the face of one the victims he has killed.
Although Leatherface's family still manipulate him in this interpretation, they are at least somewhat more caring for him and less abusive than they were in the original. Before killing the sherrif, his uncle Charlie even defends him by saying, "He's not retarded, he's misunderstood". His murderous behavior is inspired by the cruelty that he suffered from his peers.
At the climax of the remake, protagonist Erin Hardesty cuts off Leatherface's chainsaw-arm with a meat cleaver, but he survives the attack. He escapes after police discover his ranch house and find the remains of 33 people. The police fail to secure the crime scene properly, allowing Leatherface to attack and kill two officers. Leatherface then escapes and disappears, forcing the case to remain open.
Andrew Bryniarski, who played Leatherface in the remake, states: "In my estimation, Leatherface is like a beaten dog — he was ostracized and ridiculed, and treated harshly by his peers. The psychological damage they inflicted was immense … there's no chance for him." Says Terrence Evans, who played Leatherface's uncle Old Monty, "I think there was a chance Thomas' life could have been different. But the teasing he suffered, coupled with a bad temper, and following Hoyt around like a puppy dog, left room for Hoyt to get absolute control."