Rutger Hauer, a longtime character actor best known for his performance in the science-fiction classic Blade Runner, passed away on July 19 at the age of 75, due to a short and undisclosed illness. His publicist waited until Hauer was laid to rest at a funeral this past Wednesday to confirm the news.
With nearly every one of his performances, Hauer always gave off the impression of being someone who was a keen observer of other human beings in their element, and that along with his observational skills, he had a playful and mischievous streak that would be evident in his smile, his low but intimidating voice, and in the glint of his eyes. We would be left wondering whether Hauer’s characters would use that playful and mischievous streak for good or for evil or maybe even both, and all we knew is that whatever course of action his characters would choose, it was damn near impossible to take our eyes off of him.
Born in Breukelen, the Netherlands on January 23, 1944, Hauer first gained attention for his work on the Dutch series Floris, which was created by Paul Verhoeven. That attention only grew as Hauer went on to work with Verhoeven on the films Turkish Delight in 1973, and Soldier Of Orange (a.k.a. Survival Run) in 1977.
Hauer made his American debut in the 1981 film Nighthawks, as an international terrorist named Wulfgar who arrives in New York City to unleash death and destruction, and ends up going up against detectives Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox (Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams).
His most acclaimed and memorable performance, to this day, remains his role as Roy Batty in Blade Runner, which brought him to the attention of audiences worldwide, despite its box-office failure when first released in theaters.
As a replicant (an android with enhanced physical and mental abilities, but a limited lifespan of no more than four years) wanting nothing more than to gain his freedom and live a long life with his fellow replicants, and will do whatever it takes to make that happen, Batty is charming and captivating enough to almost avoid “retirement” at the hands of his pursuer, retired “blade runner” (and possible replicant himself, a topic of discussion that is just as heated and long-lasting among filmgoers as whether or not Dottie dropped the ball on purpose in A League Of Their Own) Rick Deckard. And once he loses his partner, Pris, and is forced to accept that nothing can be done to extend his life, all that he can do as he watches Deckard clinging to life as he hangs from the edge of a rooftop, is save Deckard’s life and let him know how much he has truly appreciated everything he has seen and experienced right before his own life comes to an end, in this brief and beautiful monologue known as “Tears In Rain.”
In 1985, Hauer then went on to appear opposite Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer in the medieval fantasy film, Ladyhawke.
In what was and still is one of his most disturbing and terrifying roles, Hauer played John Ryder, a mysterious and merciless killer who sets his sights on a young man named Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) driving cross-country and refuses to leave him alone until one of them kills the other. That film, which was released in 1986 and was later remade in 2007 with Sean Bean in the role of Ryder, was The Hitcher.
In Wanted: Dead Or Alive, Hauer played Nick Randall (descendant of Josh Randall from the original Western television series of the same name), an ex-CIA agent now working as a bounty hunter in Los Angeles, who finds himself targeted by international terrorist Malak Al Rahim (Gene Simmons) and having to deal with his former CIA bosses unknowingly using him as live bait in order to get Malak to come out of hiding.
An action-packed and enjoyable ride that combines elements of Daredevil and Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman, Blind Fury starred Hauer as Nick Parker, a visually impaired Vietnam vet and drifter who must use his enhanced senses and deadly swordsmanship to keep himself and a little boy alive as they are both sought by gangsters looking to use the little boy as leverage to force his father to work for them. It also starred Terry O’Quinn, Lisa “Way to go, Paula! Way to go!” Blount from An Officer And A Gentleman, Randall “Tex” Cobb from Raising Arizona, Brandon Call from Step By Step, Noble Willingham, and Sho Kosugi.
Hauer then appeared opposite Joan Chen, Delroy Lindo, and Vincent D’Onofrio in the post-apocalyptic action film The Blood Of Heroes…
…And opposite Kim Cattrall in the sci-fi action thriller Split Second.
If you’re a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, then you’re most likely aware that the WB television series is not the first version of Buffy to appear onscreen. And that the original version of Buffy we got didn’t feature Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy going up against Mark Metcalf as The Master, but actually starred Kristy Swanson as Buffy (with the late Luke Perry by her side as Pike) going up against Lothos, a vampire king played by Hauer.
If there’s one thing that rich men like to do, it’s finding new and unique ways to spend their money and have fun. In Surviving The Game, Hauer leads a group of wealthy men whose idea of fun is hunting not animals but homeless men, whom they have flown away from civilization into deep in the wilderness to run and fight for their lives. Unfortunately for them, the homeless man they’ve chosen for their entertainment is played by Ice-T and needless to say, the hunt doesn’t go well for them.
In Batman Begins, Hauer played William Earle, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises who has taken over the company during Bruce Wayne’s absence and who is determined to keep both him and Lucius Fox out of the way in order to continue doing so.
In Sin City, he played Cardinal Roark, who has been murdering and eating sex workers and allowing his homicidal young protege, Kevin (Elijah Wood), to do the same.
And in Hobo With A Shotgun, which was based on one of the fake trailers that appeared in the 2007 film Grindhouse, Hauer played…well, a hobo with a shotgun, who uses his weapon of choice to clean up his town as it is overruled with corruption and violence.
Throughout his long career, Hauer starred in many other films and television shows, including The Osterman Weekend, Fatherland, The Legend Of The Holy Drinker, Blind Side, New World Disorder, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, True Blood, Alias (in which he appeared in the “Phase One” episode where Sydney and Vaughn finally take down SD-6, immediately make out after taking down SD-6, Will and Francie decide to hook up right before Francie is killed by Allison “Francie doesn’t like coffee ice cream” Doran), Merlin, Smallville, Salem’s Lot, The 10th Kingdom, Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block, an as-yet-unreleased remake of A Christmas Carol, and many, many others. He also did voice acting for the video games Observer and Kingdom Hearts 3.
When news of Hauer’s death became public, it didn’t take long for many of his fans, admirers, and former colleagues to offer kind words along with their condolences.
Impossible to be a Verhoeven fan without loving Rutger Hauer. RIP you crazy, beautiful, enormous Dutch legend! pic.twitter.com/9BpAfye7oe— Marie Bardi (@mariebardi) July 24, 2019
RIP Rutger Hauer, who like Roy Batty also passed away in 2019. Loved him. Just an unforgettable screen presence, the Mads Mikkelsen of my childhood. pic.twitter.com/w4d3AahgCF— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) July 24, 2019
How I will miss the devastatingly handsome and charismatic Rutger Hauer; here, giving one of his finest performances in Soldier of Orange (1977, Paul Verhoeven). pic.twitter.com/agcQlfMlvf— Farran Nehme (@selfstyledsiren) July 24, 2019
Rest in power, Rutger Hauer. Hobo With A Shotgun inspired us to make our first film. Thank you for all the years you shared your beautiful craft with the world.— The Soska Sisters (@twisted_twins) July 24, 2019
From THE HITCHER to HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (and, of course, BLADE RUNNER), Rutger Hauer is and always will be a cinematic force.— FANGORIA (@FANGORIA) July 24, 2019
We will miss him.
RIP the great Rutger Hauer: an intense, deep, genuine and magnetic actor that brought truth, power and beauty to his films. My personal favorites: Flesh + Blood, Eureka, The Hitcher, Blade Runner, Ladyhawke and Blind Fury. pic.twitter.com/1F2Via3mLY— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) July 24, 2019
RIP Rutger Hauer. Everyone’s going to be posting Tears in Rain gifs so here’s Face in Flames from Buffy the Vampire Slayer… pic.twitter.com/REA3S0BiEZ— Matt Fowler (@TheMattFowler) July 24, 2019
Friends. It's a bad year for anyone who co-starred in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 😰 pic.twitter.com/fY4IuBzXRr— Kate Hudson (@HudsonKate) July 24, 2019
We are crying tears in the rain. R.I.P. Rutger Hauer. The legendary actor was 75. pic.twitter.com/99TEilDQcg— Fandango (@Fandango) July 24, 2019
RIP Rutger Hauer 🙏 I had the honor of working with him in ‘Surviving The Game’ https://t.co/o2cQgBF9l2— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) July 24, 2019
Yep… A very cool dude.. He will be missed.. R.I.P Rutger Hauer 🙏 https://t.co/Q9KF0SQ9Xz— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) July 24, 2019
Sad to hear Rutger Hauer has passed away. He was always a gentleman, kind and compassionate. Sending our condolences and prayers to his family, friends and fans. pic.twitter.com/wFtZJs9Ui5— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) July 24, 2019
Rutger Hauer.— Vincent D'Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) July 24, 2019
I spent several months in the outback of Australia with him.
He was a true sweetheart of a man.
We did a film together, I was very young called Salute of the Jugger/The blood of heroes.
I'll never forget the Dutch films and BLADE RUNNER. He'll always stay with me. pic.twitter.com/VTCk0QHEnV
So sad to hear of Rutger Hauer’s passing. Working with this gentleman was a career highlight when we co-starred together in the 1981 movie #Nighthawks.— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) July 24, 2019
Sending my condolences to all that he touched in his lifetime.#RIPRutgerHauer pic.twitter.com/5tqIgj9cID
RIP Rutger Hauer, it was great working with you. pic.twitter.com/w8QkqfIXnv— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) July 24, 2019
I am incredibly heartbroken to learn it was your time to leave us Rutger. Your mastery of every role you ever played will always be cherished. We all will miss you very very much. RIP my old friend ❤️🙏🏼 #RutgerHauer #BuffyTheVampireSlayer pic.twitter.com/IaUvLfkilK— Kristy Swanson (@KristySwansonXO) July 24, 2019
One of the biggest highlights of my career was working with Rutger Hauer on Sin City. A truly commanding presence in front of the camera but also a consummate storyteller with a passion for mentorship and creating opportunities for new filmmakers. A remarkable generous spirit. pic.twitter.com/p9YKNj37ft— Robert Rodriguez (@Rodriguez) July 25, 2019
I would like to offer my most profound condolences to the dearest friends and family of Rutger. God’s Speed on Angel’s Wings my friend. We are more for knowing and loving you. Rest In Peace Rutger Hauer. pic.twitter.com/T4USvbHafE— Sharon Stone (@sharonstone) July 25, 2019
Rutger Hauer was one of those rare talents that exalted the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres to levels no one else had ever achieved before, and no one else has been able to reach ever since. The world seems a little less special today without him here. pic.twitter.com/NChymnQl4C— Heather Wixson (@thehorrorchick) July 24, 2019
Rest in peace, the great Rutger Hauer, seen here during the making of BLADE RUNNER, Ridley Scott's 1982 noir-tinged sci-fi landmark, in which this magnetic actor crafted one of cinema's most captivating and unforgettable villains. ✨ pic.twitter.com/VB1cqseupY— Tribeca (@Tribeca) July 24, 2019
In memory of Rutger Hauer, let's all remember his finest performance in the criminally underrated film "Split Second," where he played a loose cannon cop forced to team up w/ a by-the-book partner to fight the literal devil in a cyberpunk dystopian future https://t.co/ev7IMOxzOZ— Eater of Continental Breakfasts (@bitterkarella) July 24, 2019
Thank you Rutger Hauer for your amazing work. You will be missed.— KINGDOM HEARTS (@KINGDOMHEARTS) July 25, 2019
We lost a legend and someone dear to my heart. Here are some thoughts on my mentor and hero. RIP Rutger Hauer and much love to his family. pic.twitter.com/xl6h1wlOFm— Jason Eisener (@jasoneisener) July 25, 2019
Rutger Hauer's speech at the end of Blade Runner (1982) is one of the most moving, iconic moments from the last 40 years of #cinema.— Zach Galligan (@zwgman) July 24, 2019
And he IMPROVISED IT.
He was a truly great #actor in both English and Dutch. Simply incredible.
RIP Rutger Hauer
1944 -2019 pic.twitter.com/eb7IThgQYa
Many of Rutger Hauer's more memorable roles saw him playing villains, but I've always really loved his performance in Hobo With a Shotgun. It's a gory grindhouse throwback at the end of the day, but Hauer really elevates it with his heartbreaking work as the title character. pic.twitter.com/7Yyl336Tw8— John Squires (@FreddyInSpace) July 24, 2019
RIP Rutger Hauer (1944-2019). With your memorable & iconic roles you made a mark on existence. Thoughts and prayers to you, your family & friends. Love @allontheboard #RIP #RutgerHauer #RIPRutgerHauer #BladeRunner #Hitcher #LadyHawke #Legendary #Actor #allontheboard #ThankYou pic.twitter.com/bZd4aDHpWb— All on the board (@allontheboard) July 24, 2019
In a statement to SYFY WIRE, Ridley Scott, who directed Hauer in Blade Runner, said this about him and his contributions to the film:
“Rutger was the gentle giant…I don’t know who was more nervous on that first morning of the first day on set in 1982…I think the film is called Blade Runner. We helped each other through the entire process because it was very challenging. I’ll miss him.”
Daryl Hannah, who starred as Pris in Blade Runner, had this to say about him:
“I have a profound love and respect for Rutger Hauer…I am heartbroken to learn he has left us. He was unpredictable, extremely human, inspired, electric and mesmerizing. It was thrilling to work with him as an actor and I admired his deep commitment as an activist, with his support of the important work of Sea Shepard and of those who fight against the scourge of AIDS. Rutger’s mad brand of poetic genius inspired me as a teen in so many films like Soldier of Orange and Spetters. But I will always hear his haunting words from Blade Runner, ‘All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.’”
Hauer is survived by his wife, Ineke ten Cate, and his daughter, Aysha, from a previous marriage to Heidi Merz.
To Rutger Hauer: Thank you for all that you’ve done, and for all that you’ve contributed.
May you rest in peace.
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