Rutger Hauer: the man who became a replicant

Rutger Hauer: the man who became a replicant

Rutger Hauer

How many actors can boast of having made cinema history with a handful of words? Few, here is the answer, and in this exclusive club Rutger Hauer stands out above all. His final monologue as Roy Batty in Blade Runner was enough to make this Dutch actor one of the most beloved faces in cinema. Yet, Hauer, born on January 23, 1944, does not have a particularly rich international palmares, despite a boundless fame that has led him to cover a few but iconic roles in world film, allowing him to become a particularly loved figure, especially in the 1980s. , with interpretations that ranged from action films to more conceptual ones.

It is difficult not to associate Hauer's angular face with the expressions that made Roy Batty one of the most beloved villains in world cinema, but talent, perhaps never fully exploited , Hauer put himself at the service of other characters who, in the 1980s, became particularly loved by film fans, such as Captain Etienne Navarre of Ladyhawke or the veteran Nick Parker of Blind Fury, and also obtaining critical acclaim for small jewels such as Ermanno Olmi's The Legend of the Holy Drinker, in which Hauer acted as the protagonist and gave birth to a long friendship with the regi is Italian. The titles mentioned are only a part of the roles brought by Rutger Hauer to the big screen, pieces of an artistic mosaic that could perhaps have shown more of this extraordinary performer, but for which we can be grateful, considering how the Dutch actor's youthful ambitions were quite others: becoming a long-time captain.

Rutger Hauer: from seafaring life to acting

Hauer was born in Breukele, in the province of Utretch, on January 23, 1944. At the time, the Netherlands was still an army occupied nation of the Third Reich. The environment in which he grew up was that of war, and the following years, characterized by a period of difficult recovery from the consequences of the Second World War, were formative for the actor, who never hid the weight of this situation on the his personal growth:

“I was born in the midst of war, and I believe it is for this reason that I have a strong attachment to pacifism. Violence scares me ”

if (jQuery (" # crm_srl-th_culturapop_d_mh2_1 "). Is (": visible ")) {console.log (" Edinet ADV adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_culturapop_d_mh2_1 slot id: th_culturapop_d_mh2 "); } The children of two actors, teachers of the acting school in Amsterdam, Rutger Hauer grew up in a family environment where he was pushed to experiment with his creativity. This openness was dictated more by the parents' obsessive interest in acting, which often overshadowed their parental role, to the point that Hauer and her two younger sisters grew up without parenting figures.

Despite being was enrolled by his parents in a prestigious school based on anthroposophy, an esoteric discipline that connects the physical and spiritual dimensions, so that he could focus on his artistic and creative skills, Hauer at 15 escaped from the institute to pursue the dream: to become captain of a ship . Guiding him in this ambition was the figure of his grandfather, captain of a schooner, who had become an inspiration for Hauer, destined to fail less than a year after his first assignment aboard a ship, when due to his color blindness he was considered unsuitable for seafaring life.

Back on land, he supported himself with occasional jobs to support his studies, which he started at the Academy for Theathre and Dancing. After a few months he dropped out of this school to join the army, where he was trained as a combat doctor, but he left his military career in a short time, when he opposed the use of deadly weapons. Again, Rutger Hauer returned to his acting studies, which he concluded in 1969, when he landed his first role in Floris, a medieval television series directed by Paul Verhoeven.

The international turning point

if (jQuery ("# ​​crm_srl-th_culturapop_d_mh3_1"). is (": visible")) {console.log ("Edinet ADV adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_culturapop_d_mh3_1 slot id: th_culturapop_d_mh3"); } Impressed by his excellent performance in Floris, Verhoeven wanted Hauer as the protagonist of Fiore di carne, a film that, together with the next Kitty Tippel… those nights spent on the road, also made him noticed by the world of international cinema. 1975 was a pivotal year for Hauer: with The Seed of Hatred he obtained his first assignment in an international production, in a film with strong themes, such as apartheid, which allowed him to play, albeit in a minor role, with names of the caliber of Michael Caine and Sideny Poitier. Despite having a non-top-notch role, Hauer is nevertheless noticed by Hollywood, which sees promising characteristics in this young Dutch actor.

This sudden celebrity confronted Rutger Hauer with a dilemma: to change his name. According to some members of the Hollywood establishment, his name was not very catchy by American standards, and a sound closer to overseas sounds would have benefited his career. The idea seemed absurd to the Dutch actor, who did not want to give in to these pressures, convinced that his fame on American soil would quickly evaporate.

It had to wait until 1981 to see Rutger Hauer in a Hollywood film, when he got the part of the terrorist that a young Sylvester Stallone was hunting in The Hawks of the Night (1981). This first step in the cinema that matters is the prelude to the great role of Rutger Hauer: Roy Batty, the antagonist android of the replicant hunter Rick Deckard in Blade Runner.

Roy Batty, the role of life

if (jQuery ("# ​​crm_srl-th_culturapop_d_mh4_1"). is (": visible")) {console.log ("Edinet ADV adding zone : tag crm_srl-th_culturapop_d_mh4_1 slot id: th_culturapop_d_mh4 "); } When Ridley Scott got to work on his second science fiction film after Alien, his first difficulty was finding the performers. All the key figures of Blade Runner had particularities that made it difficult to identify a precise interpreter, all but one: Roy Batty. From the very first draft of the screenplay, in Scott's thoughts was this young Dutch actor, who had struck him for his acting in Flower of Flesh and Soldier of Orange, Rutger Hauer. For him, Hauer's physiognomy and his imposing physicality, combined with an incomparable expressiveness, were the essential points to give life to the villain of the film. A belief that was also shared by Philip Dick, author of the novel from which the film was based:

"He is the perfect Roy Batty. Cold, Aryan, flawless ”

Choosing Rutger Hauer for that role in Blade Runner was one of Scott's fortunes. The actor put himself fully at the service of the character, making him his own and characterizing him to perfection. An affinity with the role to play that came to the point of giving advice to the director, despite the constant tension between the American workers and Scott on the set. We owe to Hauer the composition of the final confrontation between Batty and Deckard, which Scott wanted more adrenaline and lively, but which the Dutch actor proposed to change to give him more pathos, considering that his physicality proposed to avoid close fights but to to present it all as a manhunt.

But Hauer's real finishing touch was the improvised intervention on the famous final monologue by Roy Batty. Although the scene had already been written and approved, when it was time to shoot it, Hauer, after thinking about it all night, decided to change it, surprising everyone with a different version and an incredibly lively and human acting, also introducing the element of the dove. When the troupe witnessed this interpretation, an incredible silence fell and Scott could not help but admire Hauer's choice. The actor, for years, has told how he came to the choice of this particular modification to the screenplay:

"I had to recite a text that was much longer, and which seemed to me to be offline for that very reason. with the context. Rereading it, I decided to cut out a few sentences and conclude with the sentence about lost memories, like tears in the rain. I had this intuition only the night before shooting the scene ”

The bond between Blade Runner and Rutger Hauer was immediate, and remained unchanged over the years. For the whole world, the name of the Dutch actor remains inextricably linked to Scott's film, an attachment felt also by the actor, who, precisely because of this synergy between character and performer, did not hide his aversion to the idea of ​​returning to the world. of replicants with Blade Runner 2049:

“It may seem strange, but it seems impossible to me to imagine that there was a need and a need for a film like Blade Runner 2049. Visually it is superlative, but I cannot understand the need for it. I think that if something is so fascinating, you should leave it unique and create another film, not rely on a success gained 30 years ago. In many ways, Blade Runner was like E.T., he faced the question of what it means to be human, he wasn't just talking about replicants. For the second Blade Runner, I can't understand what his question is: it's not character focused, there is no humor, love or soul. You can feel the desire to pay homage to the original, but that's not enough for me. I was convinced it wouldn't work, but in the end I think what I think is not that important "

After Blade Runner

At the time of its theatrical release, Blade Runner was not the global success we conceive today, a condition that, despite an excellent performance, did not make Rutger Hauer a first-rate actor. The following years, for the Dutch actor, were the bearers of roles in action or adventurous films, in which, curiously, Hauer's first choice was always the roles of the villain.

Even for Ladyhawke, initially Hauer was initially approached for the role of bishop. Richard Donner, director of the film, was instead rejected by the actor, considering that Hauer was extremely interested in the role of Etienne Navarre, who became another famous alter ego in his career for Rutger Hauer. To inspire the directors were his expressiveness and his incredible ability to enter the skin of the characters, a gift that allowed him to be a hero as well as interpret tormenting and dark souls, as demonstrated by The Hitcher, where he took on the role of a disturbing murderer .

But behind that glacial gaze, Rutger Hauer also hid a dramatic and overwhelming vein, a characteristic that did not escape Ermanno Olmi, who, having received Robert de Niro's refusal, entrusted himself to the Dutch actor to give life to his Andreas Kartack, the Parisian homeless protagonist of The legend of the holy drinker. Rutger Hauer was magnificent, able to convey the intense drama of this character, human and overwhelming in his struggle with life, giving life to an unforgettable figure, which led Olmi's film to reap prizes (including the Lion of 'Gold at the Venice Film Festival). If Roy Batty was the first mask with which international cinema met Rutger Hauer, Kartack's face ravaged by alcohol and desperate expression are the most emblematic features of the Dutch actor's incredible acting talent.

In this very fruitful period, the action hero figure particularly akin to sci-fi settings brought Hauer one step closer to landing the role of Alex Murphy in Robocop, a film by his friend Paul Verhoeven who would have warmly wanted him, but who he was eventually forced to cast the part to Peter Weller.

If in the 1980s Rutger Hauer was a well-known and valued figure in action films, the following decade turned into a slow descent into oblivion for Hauer. In fact, in recent years the actor was mostly involved in television commercials, being asked to lend his work only in low-budget films. Yet, his experience allowed some of these B-Movies to become small cult for fans, as happened for Detective Stone (1992), in which Hauer plays an eclectic investigator intent on a monster hunt in a future London submerged by waters of the Thames.

A partial return to the most prestigious scenes appeared in the early 2000s, a period in which Rutger Hauer was able to appear, albeit in minor roles, in films of the caliber of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind , Sin City and Batman Begins. Apart from the experience with two works of a certain thickness such as The Cardboard Village and The Colors of Passion, in which he was once again able to show his incredible acting skills, the small parts in which Hauer was involved in this period were only a ' shadow of what was previously shown by the actor.

Curiously, Hauer had a particular bond with one of the classic figures of the popular imagination: the vampires. At the beginning of his career, Rutger Hauer, with his acting, deeply influenced the writer Anne Rice, who saw in the Dutch actor the model on which to develop one of her most successful characters: the vampire Lestat. When Interview with the Vampire finally became a film in 1994, Hauer unfortunately could not play Lestat, as he was considered too old for the part, which was entrusted to Tom Cruise.

On the other hand, Hauer was able to play well two vampire-themed films, in both cases with Donald Sutherland. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Joss Whedon's first attempt to give birth to his famous bloodsucking hunter, Hauer gave the face to the vampire Lothos, while Sutherland played Merrick, the man who trained the Slayer. Sutherland and Hauer found themselves together again on the set of Salem's Lot (2004), a television miniseries inspired by the famous Stephen King novel and a remake of the 1979 TV series of the same name.

The legacy of Rutger Hauer

When the news of Hauer's death spread on 19 July 2019, the world of cinema mourned one of the most beloved faces in its history. The impact that his main characters, such as Roy Batty, Etienne Navarre or Andreas Kartack, had on the audience was such as to make Hauer a unique interpreter, able to use his expressiveness in order to capture the nuances of the different roles, emphasizing the emotional aspects. main and giving them to viewers with incredible intensity. A gift that reflected his sensitivity, which Hauer also lived through an intense social commitment, animated by a strong passion for environmental issues.

Hauer's talent would probably have deserved greater visibility, but his passion for acting found a new form by becoming a teacher in several Dutch schools, where the actor shared his experience with future artists. Poetically, one can see in his life as a teacher, the role played by his own parents previously, a unique way to ensure that his experience, his memories were not lost forever, like tears in the rain.

You can relive the intense interpretation of Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner by purchasing the Bluray Blade Runner: the Final Cut

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