Cometh the Man, Cometh the ‘Hauer’: Rutger was a great actor, leaving a lasting legacy of Great Work.
I was saddened to hear of the death of Rutger Hauer today. News broke earlier, with Variety leading. He was 75 and whilst that is by no means the most ‘untimely’ (three score..etc), it remains upsetting, because he left an indelible impression on popular culture. And one suspects he had many more roles ahead.
Rutger started his career with attention to detail in craft, learning through the ranks of theatre, dance and experimental film / television projects. An international flavour defined his work from the outset, with projects taking him from Holland to South Africa to Hollywood.
Paul Verhoeven spotted Rutger and cast him wherever possible, although a mooted collaboration on the first ROBOCOP film did not come to fruition, with the title role taken instead by Peter Weller.
There was a pervasive competence in the action genre, with Hauer acquitting himself well in BLIND FURY, for director Phillip Noyce. LADYHAWKE saw Rutger star opposite the divine Michelle Pfeiffer.
His natural poise and economy of movement, fused to a commanding vocal pattern, ensured he was cast as the bad guy, too. NIGHTHAWKS (an action/adventure thriller with Stallone) is something of a standout. When Sting and David Bowie turned down the Broccolis’ offer to play Max Zorin in Bond film A View to a Kill (1985), Hauer was considered as an alternative before Christopher Walken won the role. Such a shame 007 never battled Rutger, though Batman gets a chance (more on that, later).
In BLADE RUNNER: Hauer plays a renegade android. He is more than a physical match for Harrison Ford in the fight scenes (quite an accomplishment in itself) and famously improvised the classic monologue that arguably defines the film.
In the 1990s, Rutger was the face of GUINNESS adverts, introducing him to a whole new batch of fans, worldwide. 2005 saw him play a corporate mastermind, white collar crime villain in BATMAN BEGINS: he exuded a silent, classy menace and it’s a shame they did not simply have the character return as a rival to Bruce Wayne in THE DARK KNIGHT /DARK KNIGHT RISES.
Gamers will also be familiar with THAT voice: KINGDOM HEARTS 3!
Outside of work? Rutger was a passionate and informative activist for environmental causes, long before the issues became so fashionable or prominent.
Thoughts today with his family. Rest in peace: sad you have left us, Rutger. But your work will never be forgotten.