Lick my plate, you dog dick!
In conjunction with last Friday’s DirecTV exclusive release of new prequel Leatherface – the Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo-directed film gets a wide VOD release on October 20 – we wrote up an article last week that highlighted every character in the film who connects to a previous film in the franchise.
Along with the big guy himself, for starters, we meet younger versions of Drayton Sawyer, Nubbins “Hitchhiker” Saywer and even Grandpa Saywer in the new film.
What about family members from the sequels? Well, Leatherface is only truly canon with both the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Texas Chainsaw 3D, but early drafts of the script did actually feature Chop Top in them. And we caught up with writer Seth M. Sherwood this week to talk about what almost was… and what it became.
As Sherwood explained, Chop Top (of course played by Bill Moseley in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2) was *almost* grounded-in-reality for Leatherface.
“Chop Top was always my favorite member of the family, the only one close to the same level of standing out as Leatherface,” Sherwood told me when I asked him about those early drafts of his script. “I wanted to actually put some revisionist version of him in – something that matched the tone of the original as opposed to the more cartoony Chainsaw 2.”
Alas, Chop Top was ultimately scrapped. But Sherwood is such a fan of the character that he used his overall vibe as the inspiration for a brand new character.
“The family’s role grew and shrank in development, so I decided to scratch that itch with one of the gang by making a female version as an homage,” Sherwood explained.
Sherwood is referring to blonde-haired maniac Clarice, played by Jessica Madsen. Clarice is one of the patients who escapes the asylum with a young Leatherface early on in the film, and the original incarnation of the character was a much more on-the-nose homage to Chop Top than what ultimately ended up on screen.
“Originally she had a plate in her head and was an albino – and she may have told Stephen Dorff to lick her plate,” recalled Sherwood. “[But] when we got into our first round of revisions it started to feel like a cheat cause it was actually more of a rip off than an homage; I couldn’t help showing my Chop Top love. So we dialed it back to make her more original.”
He continued, “In thinking of her backstory in terms of the ’50s, I thought of The Bad Seed and thought– if she wasn’t stopped, how far would that little girl go? That gave me an image of this little girl in pigtails burning down her house with her parents inside, and that became the start of Clarice.”
That said, Sherwood noted, “I like to think Chop Top’s playful nature of laughing through everything and flipping back and forth between anger and giddiness is still in Clarice.”
Watching Leatherface, it’s not all that hard to see that Clarice started off as, essentially, a new take on Chop Top. She’s the most energetic, wildly out there character in the whole film, feeling like she’d fit in perfectly alongside any of the Sawyer family units that have been depicted throughout the franchise.
Simply put, Clarice is the best character in the film. And Sherwood agrees.
“Of all the characters, Jessica Madsen’s portrayal is the most dead-on to what was in my head when I wrote it,” he told me. “Not to say anyone did a bad job – I think the cast all killed it… she just somehow tapped right into my brain.”