As Roy Batty, the platinum-haired Nexus 6 killing machine in the classic cyberpunk film "Blade Runner," Rutger Hauer made us believe that man might one day design a replicant more human than himself. When Roy's life battery runs out just as he's about to dispatch the downtrodden Deckard, a dreary private eye played by a grim-faced Harrison Ford, we mourn the robot's passing as if the wrong guy had won.
Twenty-five years later, the 63-year-old Dutch actor has settled comfortably into his stock-in-trade role as the thoughtful bad guy in such recent hits as "Sin City" and "Batman Begins." But as he reflects on a quarter century on screen in his aptly titled autobiography, "All Those Moments," he explains how American film roles turned the dashing European leading man of "Soldier of Orange" and "Ladyhawke" into the nightmarish psycho killers of "Nighthawks" and "The Hitcher."
Raised in Amsterdam by Dutch acting teachers, Hauer was more interested in the sea than the stage. At age 15, he set sail on a tramp steamer that visited ports from Chicago to Sri Lanka. But with no game plan on how to return to those exotic locales on his own, he enlisted in the Dutch army.
A model recruit, Hauer was also a sensitive one who quickly found military service absurd. Mustering all his inbred acting talent, he feigned a mental breakdown and won release.
At the suggestion of his parents, Hauer studied acting and eventually signed on with the acting troupe Noorder Compagnie. An up-and-coming Dutch director named Paul Verhoeven, who would go on to direct such U.S. hits as "RoboCop" and "Basic Instinct," offered Hauer his break as the lead in "Floris," the first Dutch television series. It was a runaway success. The handsome young actor's winning turns in Verhoeven's "Soldier of Orange" and "Spetters" led to his breakthrough role in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."
Since 1988, Hauer and his wife Ineke have lived in Los Angeles, where he devotes his spare time to the Starfish Foundation, an organization he founded to help AIDS victims around the world. Bankrate cornered the man of action for a chat about replicants and residuals.
Bankrate: Did you ever imagine, growing up in Holland, that you would one day be a Hollywood actor?
Rutger Hauer: No, that was unthinkable. I mean, the world is a different place today, people think very differently, but certainly at that time I never saw myself as an actor in the States, not for a second. I never saw myself as an actor for quite some time. Growing up, I didn't know what to do basically.