Gravel voiced character actor Rutger Hauer has passed away. For anyone with even the most passing of interests in cult movies, he’s a name known for his villainous and dark portrayals. At 75 Hauer had a short battle with illness before passing away, but his legacy has left some iconic roles and big shows and movies we can revisit. We bring you some highlights of his career in his memory.
Hauer hit the scene with 1973 Dutch film Turkish Delight, directed by Paul Verhoeven, imposing with locks of blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, it was easy to see that he destined to hit Hollywood in a big way. His first Hollywood role was in Nighthawks, a film about terrorism that was beset by many production problems, though Hauer’s performance was praised.
Following this Hauer became a staple of American science fiction and fantasy for roles including Ladyhawke and most famously of all as replicant antagonist Roy Batty in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Another film beset with production problems, Hauer spoke of writing the famous last speech that ends “all these moments lost, like tears in rain” on the set because things were going wrong. Luckily for him, the film went on to become a cult hit, and his performance is widely considered to be the reason why.
Hauer won a Golden Globe for his performance as Lt. Aleksandr “Sasha” Pechersky in the television film Escape from Sobibor (1987) about a Jewish escape from a concentration camp, and was further nominated in 1994 for his performance in Fatherland.
His popularity endured thanks to his villainous turn as John Ryder in the cult horror film The Hitcher, his turn as a sadistic traveller bent on ruining the life of C. Thomas Howell’s Jim Halsey is a sinister one that pushes the viewer to hope the mild-mannered Howell will turn the tables on Ryder.
Hauer became a cult figure as a result of his 80s heyday and as a result was usually cast in smaller roles in big films. Hollywood films he found himself in include Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Sin City (2005), Batman Begins (2005), Hobo with a Shotgun (2011), The Rite (2011) and The Heineken Kidnapping (2011).
His final major film appearances were in Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and The Sisters Brothers.
Hauer also spent the last few years in television, including True Blood, Porters, Channel Zero’s fourth season Butcher’s Block and the yet to be released A Christmas Carol alongside Guy Pearce.
For many, Hauer was a favourite of the cult scene and always happy to sign autographs, discuss his roles and to engage with fans over their love of his work. Hauer was one of those actors who would always come ready to engage in the work and enjoy it.
Though outside of acting Hauer was also a committed environmentalist and was the founder of the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association which was dedicated to AIDs awareness.
Luckily, unlike tears in rain, his works won’t be lost.
1944 – 2019
Paul is Film & Media Editor @ No Majesty. Paul is a Film Studies Graduate from London, and former writer at The Metropolist.