Rutger Hauer (1944-2019)

Yesterday news broke that actor Rutger Hauer had passed away on July 19th at the age of 75.

Pretty much anyone familiar with the man and his work will likely remember him for one role and one scene in that one role, which occurred during the climax of the 1982 film Blade Runner

The most amazing thing about that speech is that Rutger Hauer apparently wrote it himself!

But there was more to Mr. Hauer’s career, much much more. One can look at his IMDB page (click here) and you’ll find a robust fifty year career as an actor.

To me, his most memorable films were those released in the 1980’s. Not all were great and some, it could be argued, were cheesy crap… and yet the presence of Rutger Hauer in the films seemed to elevate even the cheesiest of films and make them more. A sign, if one needs such a thing, to realize what a special screen presence he had.

Among my favorite Rutger Hauer films not Blade Runner (which is easily in my top 3 for Hauer films), his violent bad guy turn in 1986’s The Hitcher

What made the film so fascinating is that Hauer’s John Ryder was the purest of evil, a person who for no reason at all terrorizes C. Thomas Howell’s Jim Halsey and, like the boogeymen of these type of horror films, is in all places at all times… and is especially hard to kill. An absolutely chilling film!

Rutger Hauer’s first “American” film would be the Sylvester Stallone starring Nighthawks. His role here was not too dissimilar to that of Ryder in The Hitcher. A handsome man with the purest of evil in his heart…

While he mostly played bad guys, Rutger Hauer could also play good guys. He was especially great in the Richard Donner directed 1985 film Ladyhawk

I could go on and on with films I’ve loved with Rutger Hauer in them but I’ll end on two. These two films will never be confused with cinematic classics, but I really liked both of them. In the first, Rutger Hauer gets to play a distant relative to Steve McQueen’s Josh Randall from the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive. Truthfully, the ties to the original Western TV series are minimal other than the name, but it sure is fun watching Rutger Hauer go up against Kiss’ Gene Simmons!

Finally, and moving into the 1990’s -and more specifically 1992, we have the cheesy monster-on-the-loose thriller/horror film Split Second. Look, the film isn’t very good… and yet there’s something about its goofiness and Rutger Hauer’s cool-as-a-cucumber attitude that makes this one of those films that is far more enjoyable than it has any right to be…

One last thing before I go: If you’ve read my novels, there’s this character within the books named B’taav. When I created him years ago, he was fashioned after Rutger Hauer, David Bowie, and the French actor Jean Marais.

In my heart, though, he was mostly Rutger Hauer.

Pleasant dreams, Mr. Hauer.

You will be missed.