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R.I.P. Rutger Hauer

Photo: Amy Sussman (Getty Images)

Rutger Hauer, the iconic genre actor best known as Blade Runner’s poetic replicant Roy Batty, has died. Hauer’s agent, Steve Kenis, confirmed to Variety that Hauer died at his home in the Netherlands “after a short illness” and that a funeral was held on Wednesday. He was 75.

Hauer was born in the Netherlands in 1944, and spent much of his youth in both the Dutch merchant navy and the army. He subsequently performed with the Noorder Compagnie theater troupe, then made his way onscreen with Paul Verhoeven’s medieval drama Floris, which made the rugged, handsome Hauer a star in his native country. He and Verhoeven went on to work on a number of beloved films, including the Oscar-nominated Turkish Delight, as well as Soldier Of Orange, Spetters, and, eventually, Flesh + Blood, their last collaboration.

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Hauer’s stateside debut was in Sylvester Stallone’s 1981 thriller Nighthawks, and Ridley Scott soon tapped him as the leader of a gang of outlaw replicants in Blade Runner, which has proven to be the actor’s most iconic role. You probably remember him from no shortage of other roles, though, be it his blood-sucking turn in the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie or as a relentless madman in 1986's The Hitcher. In 1988, he won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his acclaimed turn in Ermanno Olmi’s The Legend of the Holy Drinker.

In recent years, he helped turn Grindhouse trailer Hobo With A Shotgun into glorious reality, and also played villains in shows like True Blood and Channel Zero. He also had memorable turns in 2005's Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, his steely gaze never failing to heighten the tension. 

“If the story is a love story, I’ll give it as much love on the screen as I can. If it’s The Hitcher, I’ll give it just as much love. I’ll just translate it in a different way. But I’ll make it. I’ll make it as good as I can,” he told us in a 2011 interview. “Movies are like books, just another way of telling a story, and even if I’m reluctant, I still have to look at it again. There was a pedophile that they wanted me to play once, and I thought, ‘Should I give this my full effort?’ And you go, ‘Of course you should! If you think you can do it, of course you should.’ There are many stories that need to be told. There are people who are like, ‘Oh, it’s violent.’ It’s a movie, for Christ’s sake! When are we going to stop thinking that all of this is real? It’s an illusion. And I like it there; I live there. I like the horror of the illusion and the beauty of it too.”

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.