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Interview: Andrew Bryniarski for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"

By Paul Fischer Friday October 17th 2003 03:00PM
Andrew Bryniarski for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"

Andrew Bryniarski resurrects the role of Leatherface in New Line Cinema's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and as the famous horror icon he promises, "Wait until they get a load of me!" Born in Philadelphia, Andrew Bryniarski is an actor that everyone has seen before in films. He played Butterfinger in Hudson Hawk (1991), Christopher Walken's son in Batman Returns (1992), a racist Nazi skinhead in Higher Learning (1995), an offensive lineman in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday (1999) and got out boxed by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Pearl Harbor (2001).

His most memorable role was as Steve Lattimer, who was a college football player suffering from steroid abuse in 1993's The Program. His deep voice and massively built body frame contribute to his precise gestures as an actor. Now comes along his biggest role to date, starring as the famous horror character Leatherface for a new generation to enjoy in New Line Cinema's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which opens on October 17th 2003. Through a phone interview, Andrew Bryniarski gave The Z Review exclusive insight about his role as Leatherface and the film itself.

Being one of the most challenging roles of his career thus far, Bryniarski revealed that he researched the role by all means of material available, from the original 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre film to the horrific murder stories that inspired the film.

"Anytime you are recreating something, you have to approach it very gingerly, and I studied everything that was available," said Bryniarksi, about the audacity of remaking this film and character. "You have to find something that really rocks you, then set out to surpass it (in reference to the original film), because of the inspiration in your own way. I am honored to remake this classic film, and to take what Gunner Hansen did originally (as Leatherface) and to make it my own. I complement the original version, but my version of Leatherface is pretty much our own."

Though the film has many of the same elements as the original version, Bryniarski states that the film is not just a shot by shot remake or rehash.

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the mother of all story premises. It is such a great concept. We want this film to symbolically reach out to a new generation. The screenplay for the film is completely original and very different in a good way. It is a tribute to the original film."

Besides having to get into the psyche of this murderous monster, Bryniarski dons the makeup and costume, and also amazingly did most of his own stunt work in the film.

"It was quite a challenge, my mobility was limited and my visibility was compromised by the mask, in which every little choice became a obstacle (such as running through walls and controlling the chainsaw)."

Outside of having to spend a few hours in the makeup chair each day, Bryniarski also gained weight for the role.

"I went from weighing 260 to 300 pounds for the role, by mostly eating white bread and brisket, you know the diet of Texas. I also had a padding underneath the costume, that was unbearably hot." On top of all of this, Bryniarski had to carry and control nearly a 40 lb. live chainsaw and a mask made of human skin while at times running at full speed after his victims.

When asks about any injures, Bryniarski said that the stunts performed led to close moments and many pains shared between he and his co-stars. In a scene where co-star Jessica Biel defends herself from Leatherface with a different type of sharpened object, Bryniarski said, "I had bruises all over me, but I had to throw her around like a rag doll." In reference to their physical interactions and working with Biel, he replied, "She is great, she could hit me in the face with a baseball bat, and I would still be smiling."

In Entertainment Weekly's Fall Movie Preview of the film, Bryniarski was quoted as saying that he was somewhat afraid of the film's shooting location in the middle of nowhere in southwest Texas. "Very true, those locations in south Texas are very dark and creepy," chuckled Bryniarski about his statement of fear. "You can very easily go out into the woods and run into some characters you don't want to meet. It is an environment ripe with fear, that is why the film was shot out there."

Though blockbuster director Michael Bay produced the film, the film is under the direction of Marcus Nispel, who is a very respected video director from Germany.

"Marcus has the best eye for detail," said Bryniarski, "He has tremendous attention to the story, communicating the craft that were motivating and gratifying to me. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is Marcus' movie." "My contributions to the film are pale in comparison to his work and dedication. His scope of vision is mesmerizing, he was a pleasure to work with, and I will work with him again in a second. Marcus is absolutely what they (the producers) needed for this updated film."

Bryniarski said that he is very proud of the film and is confident that people will love the movie indefinitely, but warned the faint of heart.

"This movie represents a shift from cheese in horror movies to actual terror in horror movies," "In cheesy horror movies, audiences cheer for the killer, because the killer is the coolest thing in the movie. Leatherface is not correct or fun, he is terrifying. These kids in the film are very likeable and when you see them being terrorized, you become sympathetic for them to run. Audiences will not be cheering for Leatherface in this one." He continued by saying that the film's detailed trailer and television advertisements do not give the film away, "Surprise, surprise, you can't predict this film. In the trailer audiences will see some of Texas, some chainsaw, but what is missing is the massacre. This film is not for those with weak stomachs. This film is for people that expect to go to a film to be scared. Audiences should be careful for what they ask for with this film."

Bryniarski also spoke about his love and gratitude to fans of his work, in which he still gets approached about his role as Lattimer in The Program, though the film opened nearly 10 years ago. With many more fans to be gained with his role as Leatherface, Bryniarski ranked the new role on his acting resume.

"I am a very lucky individual to be making a living as a artist in my chosen field," said Bryniarski. "Every film has a unique set of challenges, each with its own experience from start to finish. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was no exception, it challenged me every day."

After this interview was conducted, Michael Bay expressed in an interview on the Internet with Arrow in the Head the possibility of doing a prequel of the film, not a sequel. However, when Bryniarski was asked if he will don the mask again, he replied, "I never say never. I love being in the company of horror heroes as Leatherface, if a screenplay and premise indicate that I should, I would do it in a minute. I am not interested in following up what I believe is a new genre masterpiece, with a sequel that is made just because of a guy in a mask. That has been done before (in references to the previous Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequels). I believe my contribution to this film is more than just wearing a mask for him. I have to be excited and inspired by the opportunity of coming back. If they can come up with an idea that matters to the original premise that can be told in a fresh and exciting way then I will be the first one back. I am not just going to be the guy in the mask for sequel purposes."

Bryniarski can be seen next on the stage as the lead singer of his Halloween themed rock band, "Musical Freak Show."

"We are going on tour during the last weeks of Halloween, our first stop will be in Houston at Astroworld, then we close Halloween night in Pennsylvania."

Bryniarski has also been vowing to play the comic book character Lobo, in Warner Brothers big screen adaptation for years, but the project has yet to be greenlit.

"I will hopefully do Lobo with Joel (Silver) at Warner Brothers, but I am just staying busy. Where you will see me you will just never know, so keep your eyes open."

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