Rutger Hauer Dies: ‘Blade Runner’ Bad Guy, Genre Star Was 75

By Patrick Hipes, Mike Fleming Jr

Rutger Hauer dead
Ladd Company/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Rutger Hauer, the actor who played the villainous Roy Batty in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner in a career in which he became a staple in genre films, died July 19 in his native the Netherlands after a long illness. He was 75.

A funeral was held today, Hauer’s agent Steve Kenis told Deadline.

Hauer was born January 23, 1944 in Breukelen in the Netherlands. He attended the Academy for Theater and Dance in Amsterdam before being drafted into the Royal Netherlands Army. He was part of an experimental theater troupe before being cast by Paul Verhoeven in the 1969 Dutch TV action drama Floris.

His first role stateside was in 1981 in the film Nighthawks opposite Sylvester Stallone, but it was his role as Roy Batty in the 1982 cult classic Blade Runner that put him in the spotlight and made him a formidable name amongst the cult fan community of the Ridley Scott film. The role led him to many other genre-driven characters in TV and film.

Throughout the ’80s he appeared in many films. He reteamed with Verhoeven for the epic Flesh & Blood (1985) and in the same year he starred in the fantasy pic Ladyhawke. In 1986, he starred as a murderous hitchhiker in The Hitcher and went on to star in the reboot of the TV Western Wanted: Dead or Alive where he took on the role originated by Steve McQueen. In 1989 he starred in the action pic, Blind Fury.

Hauer took a dramatic turn in Ermanno Olmi’s The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988) as a homeless drunk and criminal looking for redemption in Paris. He received critical acclaim and earned a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. In the same year, he starred in the war drama Escape from Sobibor opposite Alan Arkin and received a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.

Hauer’s TV and film credits continued through the ’90s and ’00s. He appeared in many horror and vampire-centric TV and film projects including  Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D where he played Van Helsing. He was also in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie in 1992 as well as the 2004 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot where he appeared as the vampire Barlow. His affection for roles in vampire series continued with the sixth season of HBO’s True Blood where he starred as Niall Brigant. He also played the titular role in the 2005 feature Dracula III: Legacy.

The veteran actor went on to appear in many critically acclaimed films and prominent pop culture franchises including Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2003), Sin City (2005), Batman Begins (2005) as well as On the TV side he appeared in popular series such as Smallville, Alias and the 2015 BBC series The Last Kingdom.

He also voiced characters in video games such as Observer and can be heard in Kingdom Hearts III as Master Xehanort.

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