Leatherface’s sister Henrietta was described in the casting notice as a ‘late 30’s, a frumpy large sized mother-hen type’ who ‘plops her massive body down in the chair against the door’ to block the entry.
So Heather Kafka was not an obvious choice – acquiring bad hair, bad skin, bad teeth and losing her eyebrows helped and the character of the Tea Lady (Kathy Lamkin) was added to provide the bulk.
Heather described how she found the character:
It was almost impossible for me to find those tiny clues the writer leaves the actor on the page since a lot of it was about size, which I don’t have. Without any bridge from my skin to the way she was written, I knew I’d have to completely fabricate her in my own mind. So, I went to Savers, bought some cheap terrycloth bathrobe and a pair of slippers, which I then dragged through the mud a few times. Once I put it on, I didn’t take it off for three days. I literally locked myself in the house, walked around with a teacup in my hand and went crazy. It was on day three of complete madness that I inexplicably went into the bathroom and took a razor to my eyebrows. I shaved ’em right off my face. The hollowness staring back at me was the Henrietta I was looking for – she was not a total monster – but without all the normal features of a human face, she was not quite right either. (I was also completely f***ing insane! Doing this before I’d even had a call-back! Turned out, there was some debate over whether eyebrows would grow back or not. – oh well – they did).
Carla Palmer (as Carla E Palmer) was the head makeup artist; Troy Breeding was the key makeup artist; Grady Holder was the makeup artist (special effects body dismemberment); Scott Stoddard was the special makeup effects artist.