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Actor Rutger Hauer Dies At 75, Played Complex Android In 'Blade Runner'

Actor Rutger Hauer after a short illness. The 75-year-old was best known for his villainous role in Ridley Scott's classic 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner. Hauer played Roy Batty, a murderous and contemplative android who is hunted down by a cop played by Harrison Ford.

In the movie's climax, Hauer's character stands on a wet rooftop and delivers a moving existential soliloquy, moments before powering off, "I've seen things, you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die."

In a 2017 interview with Radio Times, Hauer said he wrote those final "tears in rain" lines that reportedly had crew members on the set — and audiences — applauding and crying. "I was hoping to come up with one line where Roy, because he understands he has very little time, expresses one bit of the DNA of life that he's felt," Hauer said, "How much he liked it. Only one life."

It was the most iconic scene of Hauer's seven-decade acting career.

Hauer was born in 1944, in a small town in the Netherlands under occupation during World War II. He grew up in Amsterdam, the son of actors who ran an acting school. Hauer made his stage debut at age five, and as a teen traveled the world with the Dutch Merchant Navy and later the army.

But he returned to drama, joining an experimental troupe before starring as an exiled knight in medieval times, in the Dutch TV series Floris. Director Paul Verhoeven went on to cast him in several other films, including Turkish Delight (1973), in which he played a sculptor. The erotic love story was the Netherlands' nominee for an Oscar.

He made his Hollywood debut as a terrorist in Sylvester Stallone's 1981 film Nighthawks before his famous turn in Blade Runner. Over the years, he became known for his humorous commercials for Guinness beer, as well as his for movie roles as villains, romantic leads and action heroes.

He was paired with Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1985 film Ladyhawke, and the following year, played a psychotic hitchhiker in the thriller The Hitcher. He played vampires and vampire hunters in movies and television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in 2005, he was an evil corporate executive in Batman Begins.

According to IMDB, Hauer has five projects still to be released. He published an autobiography, was an environmentalist and founded the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association, an AIDS awareness organization.

After his death was announced, his friends and fans shared photos and quote on social media. Some noted that he died in the same year as his character in Blade Runner, 2019, when the film was supposed to be set. On Twitter, director Guillermo del Toro described him as, "an intense, deep, genuine and magnetic actor that brought truth, power and beauty to his films." The movie theater franchise Alamo Drafthouse tweeted, "All those moments. And Daryl Hannah, who costarred in Blade Runner tweetedsimply, "tears in rain."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.