Tim Harden's Interview with Paul Partain
who played 'Franklin' in 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. 

Paul Partain


I have done a lot of research on 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', the actors, the crew and everything else associated with the film.  And nowhere have I found any real 'in-depth' information on one of the most memorable characters from 'Chainsaw'.  So I thought it was, as we say in Texas, 'high-time' that Mr. Partain share some information about himself, the past, the present and the future.

I have been writing a regular article for the horror magazine, 'Are You Going', and this interview will appear in issue #3.  I am very pleased that Paul took time out of his schedule to answer my questions for the magazine and my web site.  My wife and I are also very lucky to consider Paul our friend.

For more information on Mr. Partain, you can visit his new web site at

This interview was conducted on January 16th, 2002.



TH: Where were you born & raised?
PP: Georgetown, Texas. Pop. 4532
TH: What does the "A" stand for in "Paul A. Partain"?
PP: Alan  (and you thought it was A_ _hole).
TH:  How did you get into acting/the arts?







High School drama club. Our Jr. High and Sr. High School were in the same building so when I first got exposed to plays was when I was in the 7th grade.  Our school participated in the UIL one act play contests and quite frankly, we dominated the region in 2A. Freshman year, my sister invited me to a drama club meeting where they were auditioning  four one act plays that were to compete within our own school and then the winner of that competition would go on to compete in the UIL contests. Hardest competition was within our own school.  I remember the play was “The Affected Young Ladies” by Molier and there was a great speech by Georgibus, sort of a chorus type character. Well, after the director had read for all the parts and pretty much had her mind made up, she asked if anyone else wanted to read. I raised my hand went to the front of the class room and proceeded to read Georgibus. The last lines were when old Georgibus looks out to the audience and says “…and you, who are the cause of their folly, silly nonsense, perniciously idle amusements, novels, verses, songs,  may you be particularly damned.”  Then I shut up and everyone started clapping. Amazing. I have never stopped loving that particular sound.
TH: How did you arrive in Austin, TX?




After I got out of the Navy in Virginia Beach, I  turned West and pushed a 51 Ford faster than it should have gone all the way to Tuskogee,  Alabama where the Ford blew up on me for the final time, head gaskets, radiator, massive smoke coming out from under the hood. Sold the Ford for $50 and a ride to the bus station and here I are.
TH: Did you have any life long dreams or pursuits?
PP: None that I am not living or actively pursuing.
TH: It seems that no one has talked about how you got involved with TCM.  Can you elaborate?


Sure. I was spending my evenings at a local dinner theatre whose director was a teacher at Martin Jr. High School. Also at Martin Jr. High was Kim Henkle’s wife who talked to the theatre director lady who pointed me toward the audition.


It's been understood that most people did not believe that TCM would do anything except make a few showings and perhaps quickly fade away.  Was there any one moment or series of moments that occurred that made you realize that the film really took off?





The first clue I had was when I saw the trailer, the preview, at the Village Cinema (now Alamo Drafthouse North). I remember thinking  “Wow this looks like a real movie”. Then when I saw the movie, the house was packed (same place) and the audience was riveted to their seats, I knew we had something. The amazing thing was, the audience “got it”. Every joke, every humorous moment. They laughed when they were supposed to, jumped when they were supposed to and screamed right on cue. It was wonderful.  A couple of months ago, when we saw the film again at Halloween  in Austin, if you recall, the audience still got it.  Some folks in the audience there had been digging it for years but there were more than a few who had never seen it and who were right there in it with the rest of the crowd. Amazing.


Can you describe when/where you first saw TCM on the big screen?  Did you bring any friends/family and what were your thoughts and the thoughts of others that you may have brought with you on that occasion?






I first saw it at the Village Cinema and I went with some friends from work. Afterwards we went to a bar in the restaurant on the Southwest corner of the shopping center (the space is still a restaurant, changed names about a hundred times). Kind of a fun outing, but not a gala premier. Their reactions were all over the map. Love, Hate, Disgust, Wonderment, all strong emotional statements.  When TCM came to the local drive in, a couple of friends took their new girlfriends on a double date. The guys talked to me the Friday before the date and the Monday following the date, well, they called it “the disaster”.  Seems they started out with pepperoni pizza and enough cold beer for the guys to feel frisky and the girls to feel a little queasy and then came Chainsaw. Well what came up next was probably not pretty and the tale goes that when one girl threw up so did the other and of course it was a new car and it took forever to clean up the mess and they say they never did get the smell out and the guys were pissed at whom? Me! Said it was my fault! Not so! Greasy drive in pizza and cold beer and Tobe and Kim and the rest of the gang  had something to do with it too.


You mentioned seeing the film for the first time at the Village Cinema here in Austin, Texas.  Allen Danziger (who played the van driver in TCM) once told me a story about how his friends rented a limo and took him to the same theater to see the film for the first time as well.  Were you with the same group?


No. I did run into Allan in the lobby. He handed me a card his friends had given him. Said something like "Allan Danziger  Star of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eggshells, Gone With the Wind.." A collector's item no doubt.
TH: Can you layout your complete filmography, including any plays or other works?
PP: Probably. I will work on that for you. Been doing this since I was a little boy.
TH: What do you believe is the best thing that has come out of TCM, or film career as a whole that pleases you the most?






Hard to say what pleases me most about TCM. I am very pleased at the fan base that is out there. To have been part of something that is loved and hated by millions of people is pretty special. That says that if we were meaning to touch resonant chords in viewers, we succeeded in spades.  I have never met a person who has seen TCM who is ambivalent about the film. They either love it or they hate it but they always have a strong opinion about it. I like that a whole bunch. About my “film career” I am most pleased that I have the ability and the desire to pick it up again and to be excited about roles I have never even thought about yet.  A good friend asked me what was my favorite role and I answered “I haven’t played it yet”. That is what pleases me most. One other thought here: When I saw Tobe, he told me that in a poll conducted by E (entertainment network I think), TCM was the most recognized film title in the world. Man that is right up there with Gone With The Wind and Debbie Does Dallas!
TH: Have there been any negative side effects because of your involvement with TCM?


Not really.  Because of the financial trials and tribulations surrounding the film and the participants, I got to see some people in situations where they were not at their best. That is not really an answer to your question, but TCM has been an interesting litmus test for personality disorders. Not always a pleasant sight.
TH: What do you enjoy doing today, or what do you like to do to pass the time?  Hobbies?  Other pursuits?










A little background: for almost ten years I was a Regional Sales Manager for Zenith Electronics Corp. Part of my job was evaluating the latest and greatest TVs  Zenith made. During that time Zenith sent me a new giant TV every year. The house where I now live is too small to have one in the living room, but there is a TV in the bed room and a portable in the upstairs bath. I try not to watch too much of it in bed, so that sort of limits it to the news in the mornings and five to ten minute potty breaks.  I like to read. Always have. Love the written word and the magic it takes to make the written word leap onto the stage or the screen. Pure joy there.  I love to sing.  Watch Real Life with Gerald Mann on Sunday mornings and you might catch a glimpse of me in the Riverbend Chorale, or better yet, come to church Sunday morning and sing along with us. Won't hurt a bit, I promise.  I have recently taken up dancing. Two stepping and waltzing are my favorites. I can do a low impact Polka. At the Tango, I am a beginner, my Fox Trot needs work but my East Coast Swing and Jitterbug are superb. I continue to love hunting and fishing. Something very satisfying about using the skills taught by my Father and Grandfather to put food on the table. Acting remains my passion. This last year I auditioned more than I was in front of a camera, but even the auditioning did its part to knock off some of the rust. I remember one part I auditioned for, a baseball manager. I got the idea early on that this guy was a “kinder gentler” sort of manager. Worked that interpretation through the initial interviews and auditions, got in front of the director and found out that kinder gentler idea was 180 degrees out of phase with what he wanted to see, so I tried to shift gears on the fly, and did not do too swift a job of it. Out in the parking lot it hit me what he wanted and how to play the role. Too late for that one, but a good lesson in preparation for the next opportunity.


How did you get involved with the third sequel to 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', which was called 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation' starring Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey?




One day I was listening to the recorded production hotline from the Texas Film Commission and they said that Kim Henkel was directing and producing a remake of Chainsaw so I went downtown to his production office and had a very nice visit with Kim and said “I want to play”.  Kim had been thinking about writing a role in for John, and Marilyn had been in touch, so Kim thought a minute and said it might be fun to write something “just for the real chainsaw fans”. Next thing you know Kim has written a little scene where Johnny (grandpa) is a cop interviewing the survivor girl (Renee Z.) while I wheel Marilyn by on a gurney. Lots-o-fun.
TH: Are there any moments that stand out in your mind during the shooting of TCM?  Funny?  Serious?  Or otherwise?





Yes. Loved the gas station scene where Marilyn’s  goofy looking friend is washing the windshield of the van and moving to and fro along with Jim Siedow and as Jim  was delivering one of his lines the guy slops about half of his bucket of soapy water on the windshield and just douches Jim.  Soaked him head and shoulders. Still laugh at the thought of that.  One not so pleasant bit of frustration happened on the road filming in the van. One of the assistant assistants was supposed to get the day’s supply of sausage for Franklin to be chewing on and this poor girl had no idea about sausage, so she bought raw hot links at the grocery store instead of cooked hot gut from about a hundred places around Austin. So one morning’s shooting was done with me chewing on a piece of raw sausage. Not very much fun there. Thank God I’m a carnivore!


It's been said by Daniel Pearl that most of the movie was shot in order as the scenes appeared in the film.  With exception of the time you told me that your tumble down the hill and your visit to the "Grandparents" house was shot out of order.  On this basis, did you spend time watching the remaining production when you were not directly involved in a scene?




No. Don’t want to disillusion any folks who want to watch a movie being made, but it is a most static process. Boring is a word that comes to mind. Also, there is not a lot of extraneous stuff that is permissible on a set. The biggest word in Show Business, is Business. Especially true on a movie set. As you have been told, I am sure, the Bad Guys had almost no interaction with the Good Guys. That was by design. They were really discouraged from being on our set, as we were from being on theirs, so anytime you hear that one of us was just hanging around the set, question it. We are all getting up in years and the memories may be fading or changing a bit to make a more interesting tale but there was almost zero interaction between the two groups.


Did Tobe or Kim do any coaching to you for your character, or try to influence you on who they thought Franklin should be?  If not, where did this character, or better - where inside of YOU did the character come from?



Tobe had a lot to do with who Franklin was. So did Kim. Somewhere early in the auditioning process,  Tobe planted the seed that grew into my interpretation of the character of Franklin. I latched onto the thought that Franklin was a “whiny bastard” and that phrase was my key to the guy. The situation he finds himself in is a fifth wheel sort of setting, but old Franklin is a professional victim, whiny bastard. I hope I brought a certain depth to an already well drawn, well written character.
TH: What are you plans for the future?
PP: I have noticed there is a slight tilt to the U.S. A.  Everything loose seems to eventually roll over and down to the lower left hand corner. I hear they make a few movies in that part of the world as well.



I'd like to thank Mr. Partain again for his time and allowing us to visit his world from a little while.

If you have any questions about this interview or my web site in general, please feel free to e-mail me with your inquiries.  You can also visit Paul's official web site at

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© 2004 Tim Harden