Rutger Hauer: Good guy, bad guy, hero, anti-hero, pure magic


Rutger Hauer, one of the most versatile actors to ever grace the silver screen passed away yesterday at the age of 75. At 1428 Elm, we say goodbye to a genre icon.

Rutger Hauer was always one of my favorite actors. I discovered him in the early 80’s in a 1973 film directed by Paul Verhoeven called Turkish Delight.

Some would consider it risqué but I remembered being intrigued at how fearless this artist was. With his floppy blonde hair and his athletic frame, he commanded your attention from the moment he came on screen.

My eyes were riveted to him watching every move that he made. What was impressive about him was that he could move from genre to genre and was never pigeonholed which is an amazing and rare feat for an actor.

I could talk about Blade Runner and his heartbreaking performance as Roy Batty but I feel that wouldn’t do him justice. It is one of the best sci-fi films that I have ever seen but I want to celebrate some of his work that is not as familiar.

Rutger Hauer Hero 2 – Courtesy of Verenigde Nederlandsche Filmcompagnie (VNF)

1985 was an especially auspicious year for Hauer. He made two films that were polar opposites of one another, Ladyhawke and Flesh + Blood. The latter teamed him with his creative partner, Paul Verhoeven again.

Ladyhawke is quite possibly one of the most romantic movies ever made. Yes, I said romantic and Rutger was dashing and stalwart as the hero, Navarre. Forever cursed so that he could not be with his beloved, Isabeau (played by the bewitching Michelle Pfeiffer), my heart tore in two as I watched him do anything and everything to bring his soulmate into his arms again.

When they finally are reunited, I defy anyone out there to not shed a tear. That was the epitome of what we all want love to be like and so rarely it isn’t.

After portraying a grand character like Navarre, in Flesh + Blood, his Martin was cursed to fall in love with a woman who would betray him. Jennifer Jason Leigh as the object of his affection is beguiling and virginal. The two of them onscreen together are like a combination of volatile chemicals.

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This film has Verhoeven’s fast paced action and gritty scenes not to mention his signature softcore moments but Hauer shines in this medieval adventure. Although he is a bit of a rogue, you aren’t put off by it because you see his heart in those startling blue eyes every time, he looks at Leigh’s character, Agnes.

But Rutger also had a lighter and playful side which came out in the 2015 musical comedy series, Galavant. This ABC show was like Walt Disney via Monty Python. Of course, because it was a tad offbeat, it only lasted for 18 episodes.

Hauer was featured in a 3-episode arc as Kingsley, the older brother of the somewhat idiotic King Richard brilliantly played by the wonderful comedic actor, Timothy Omundson. Who else could deliver this line in a devilish way and get laughs?

"“My destiny lies beyond the castle walls mother. I’m going to conquer and kill and spread bastard children throughout the land like wildflower seeds!”"

The actor returned time and time again to horror and sc-fi. He took roles to be challenged by them. They had to speak to him in some way. He didn’t care if he was a hero or an anti-hero. For him, it was about the words on paper and the story that was being told.

In Sin City, he was terrifying as a man of the cloth, Cardinal Roark. Bone Daddy was also another very disturbing flick about a pathologist who extracts bones from his victims while they are still alive. Yes, it is as horrifying as it sounds but if you haven’t seen it, experience it horror fans because it will stay with you for days.

With a filmography as vast and varied as Hauer’s I could literally write a book celebrating his work. As a man, he was known for his philanthropy with the organization he founded, the Starfish Association. A non-profit entity dedicated to raising awareness of HIV/AIDS with a focus on women and children.

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This talented man had the heart and soul of an artist. He encouraged his fans who were poets to send him their work on his website so that he could record them. I don’t know of too many internationally acclaimed celebrities that would be that forthcoming with their fanbase.

I will be honest. This “In Memoriam” was difficult for me to write. There is so much I want to say but I cannot find the right words to convey what a light this actor was in this world. So, I will close with a line from his famous improvised speech in Blade Runner.

“All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain.”

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Thank you, Rutger Hauer.

What is your favorite Rutger Hauer film? Let us know in the comments.