Actor Rutger Hauer reflects on a lifetime of travel and film. He will sign copies of his autobiography May 8 in Malibu.
By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times
Actor Rutger Hauer has spent nearly 50 years traveling the world, first as a merchant seaman and then as an internationally recognized film star, with more than 50 major roles under his belt. During those years, he has collected stories-loads of them.
The Netherlands-born actor with the piercing blue eyes known as “the Dutch Paul Newman,” has put as many of them as he could into an autobiography that covers an action-driven, tumultuous career and titled it, “All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants and Blade Runners.”
The problem when writing such a memoir, Hauer said, was what to leave out. “My life is too full to put it all in a book,” he said. “So, I wrote a lot and then we grabbed the best parts of my history.”
In conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the release of “Blade Runner,” director Ridley Scott’s dark, apocalyptic vision of the not-too-distant future, in which he played one of the film’s “replicants,” Hauer penned “All Those Moments” with collaborator Patrick Quinlan (and published by HarperEntertainment).
“I have always kept diaries,” Hauer said. “So I thought the re-release of “Blade Runner” was the perfect time for my variation of an autobiography. But the final version took a lot of paring down of my life.”
Hauer inherited his theatrical instincts from his parents, both successful actors, who, he insisted, never pushed him stage-ward at all. “In fact,” Hauer recalled, “I remember being about 11 years old onstage with my father in some classical Greek play. I looked out into this audience and thought, ‘How silly. If this is what my parents do, I don’t get it.'”
So, he dropped out and joined the Dutch Merchant Marines at age 15. Scrubbing decks aboard a freighter “made the world a lot wider,” the now 63-year-old actor/author said. “I was the only one on the ship who spoke English. So if we were in some South Asian port and had to haggle over the cost of a chicken or negotiate the price of a hooker, I’m the guy they came to.”
His return to civilian life sparked interest anew in acting and he spent years in blue-collar day jobs while attending drama school at night. His role in the Dutch film “Turkish Delight” launched an on-going successful collaboration with director Paul Verhoeven, leading to seminal roles in movies such as “Soldier of Orange” and, then, to American audiences.
Though his leading man looks have cast him in some romantic roles such as the medieval “Ladyhawke,” he is more known for playing sociopaths, terrorists and killers, such as those in “Nighthawks” (his American debut in 1981), “The Hitcher,” which was recently re-made in a version receiving tepid response, and the iconic “Blade Runner.”
Hauer continued his legacy of playing psychos into recent years, with “bad guy” roles in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Sin City,” and “Batman Begins.” But the actor said it’s all part of the job. “I dance between serious and funny,” he said. “It’s schizophrenic, really. You must be actor and observer. That’s why most of my diaries come directly from the set.”
The hardest part, Hauer said, was to know what not to write. “It’s a privacy thing,” he said. “Readers don’t need to get to know all of me. But I love to write! It’s so close to the skin.”
Autobiographical writing is yet another in a list of life achievements for the actor. He is a dedicated environmentalist, working and fundraising for the nonprofit wildlife organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. In 2001, he founded the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association, an organization dedicated to helping children and pregnant women with AIDS and HIV.
“The great thing about my life is that you meet amazing people and doors open a lot quicker,” Hauer said. “Charity is a hard business. Most people in it are straight shooters and I’ve had the honor of meeting a dozen different Nelson Mandelas. I’m not a preacher, but I do what I can do.”
Hauer’s next challenge is the development of the Rutger Hauer Film Factory, launched this year at the Rotterdam Film Festival. “The idea is to take several talented people and create seven short films in one week,” Hauer said. “If someone is talented, you know it in the first 30 seconds.”
Hauer said that the era of traditional, studio-driven filmmaking is over. “It is claustrophobic. Film has grown spiritually and technically, and distribution is a whole new world,” he said. “Ironically, pornographers have shown us the way and all content will be delivered directly to consumers through Internet streaming. It’s a different medium.”
Or, as his replicant character said in “Blade Runner,” when he realized the ephemeral nature of his life, “All these moments… will be lost… in time… like tears in rain.”
Rutger Hauer will read selections from his autobiography at Diesel, A Bookstore on May 8, at 7 p.m. More information can be obtained by calling 310.456.9961