Rutger Hauer is a Dutch actor, writer and environmentalist best known for his role as the eccentric and violent but sympathetic anti-hero Roy Batty in Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction thriller Blade Runner, in which he improvised the famous "tears in rain" soliloquy.
Hauer has an international reputation for playing everything from romantic leads to action heroes to sinister villains.
The son of actors, Hauer was born in Breukelen, Holland, in the Netherlands. Because his parents were often touring, he and his three sisters were raised by a nanny. A bit of a rebel during his childhood, he chafed at the rules and rigours of school and was often getting into mischief.
His grandfather had been the captain of a schooner and at age 15, Hauer ran away to work on a freighter for a year. Like his great-grandfather, Hauer is colour-blind, which prevented him from furthering his career as a sailor.
Upon his return he attended night school and started working in the construction industry. When he again bombed at school, his parents enrolled him in drama classes.
Fancying himself a poet, he spent most of his time writing poetry and hanging out in Amsterdam coffee houses instead of studying. He was expelled for poor attendance and afterward spent a brief period in the Dutch navy.
Deciding he didn't like military life, he convinced his superiors that he was mentally unfit and was sent to a special home for psych patients. It was an unpleasant place, but Hauer remained there until he convinced his ranking officers that the military really did not need him.
Hauer joined an experimental troupe, with which he remained for five years before Paul Verhoeven cast him in the lead role of the successful 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 movie found box-office favour abroad as well as at home, and within two years, Hauer was invited to make 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.
Hauer made his American debut in the Sylvester Stallone film Nighthawks (1981) as a psychopathic and cold-blooded terrorist named Wulfgar.
The following year, he appeared in arguably his most famous and acclaimed role as the eccentric and violent but sympathetic anti-hero Roy Batty in Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction thriller Blade Runner, in which role he improvised the famous tears in rain soliloquy.
Hauer went on to play the adventurer courting Theresa Russell in Eureka (1983), the investigative reporter opposite John Hurt in The Osterman Weekend (1983), the hardened Landsknecht mercenary Martin in Flesh & Blood (1985), and the knight paired with Michelle Pfeiffer in Ladyhawke (1985).