Rutger Oelsen Hauer ( 23 January 1944 – 19 July 2019) was a Dutch actor, writer and environmentalist.
Hauer’s career began in 1969 with the title role in the Dutch television series Floris, and surged with the hugely successful film Turkish Delight in 1973. After rising to international stardom with the film Soldier of Orange in 1977, he moved into American films such as Nighthawks and Blade Runner, starring in the latter as self-aware android Roy Batty. His performance in Blade Runner brought him leading roles in films such as The Osterman Weekend, Ladyhawke, Flesh+Blood, The Hitcher, Escape from Sobibor (for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor), Blind Fury, The Blood of Heroes, and Wedlock.
In the 1990s, Hauer moved into supporting roles in films including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Sin City, Batman Begins and The Rite, with occasional starring roles such as Hobo with a Shotgun. He founded the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association, an AIDS awareness organization. He was made a knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2013.
Rutger Oelsen Hauer was born in Breukelen on 23 January 1944, the son of actors Teunke (née Mellema) and Arend Hauer, who operated an acting school in nearby Amsterdam. He had one older sister and two younger sisters. He was born while his home country was under German occupation during World War II, and later stated in 1981, “I was born in the middle of the war, and I think for that reason I have deep roots in pacifism. Violence frightens me.” Hauer attended a Rudolf Steiner school, as his parents wanted him to develop his creativity. At the age of 15, he left school to join the Dutch merchant navy. He spent a year travelling the world aboard a freighter, but was unable to become a captain due to his colourblindness. Returning home, he worked odd jobs while finishing his high school diploma at night. He then entered the Academy for Theater and Dance in Amsterdam for acting classes, but soon dropped out to join the Royal Netherlands Army. He received training as a combat medic, but left the service after a few months as he opposed the use of deadly weapons. He subsequently returned to acting school and graduated in 1967.
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Hauer in Floris, 1969
Hauer had his first acting role at the age of 11, as Eurysakes in the play Ajax. During his time at the Academy for Theater and Dance, Hauer joined an experimental troupe, with which he remained for five years before Paul Verhoeven cast him in the lead role of the 1969 television series Floris, a Dutch medieval action drama. The role made him famous in his native country, and Hauer reprised his role for the 1975 German remake Floris von Rosemund. Hauer’s career changed course when Verhoeven cast him in Turkish Delight (1973). The film found box office favour abroad and at home, and Hauer looked to appear in more international films. Within two years, Hauer made his English-language debut in the British film The Wilby Conspiracy (1975). Set in South Africa, the film was an action-drama with a focus on apartheid. Hauer’s supporting role, however, was barely noticed in Hollywood, and he returned to Dutch films for several years. During this period, he made Katie Tippel (1975) and worked again with Verhoeven on Soldier of Orange (1977), and Spetters (1980). These two films paired Hauer with fellow Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbé.
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