Blade Runner co-star Rutger Hauer dies at 75: ‘Intense, deep, genuine’

Roma: Sights Of Death photocal in Rome

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Actor Rutger Hauer, best known for playing Roy Batty in the original 1982 Blade Runner film, has died at 75. A charity he established, the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association, announced that Hauer died on July 19 at his home after a short illness. The association is a nonprofit focusing on helping children and pregnant women with HIV/AIDS. 

His funeral was held Wednesday, Variety reports. A representative for Hauer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hauer delivered the famed “tears in rain” death monologue in Blade Runner, a speech he helped tweak for the screen.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” Hauer says as Batty, a replicant being hunted by Harrison Ford’s character Rick Deckard. “Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

In a 2017 interview with Radio Times, Hauer discussed the speech, crediting director Ridley Scott for letting him tweak the script.

“I kept two lines, because I thought they were poetic,” he said, referring to the lines mentioning attack ships and C-beams.  “I thought they belonged to this character, because somewhere in his digital head he has poetry, and knows what it is. He feels it! And while his batteries are going, he comes up with the two lines.”

The speech has been praised and quoted innumerable times since then. Singer David Bowie even quoted it on a card he sent to his half-brother’s funeral, Rolling Stone reports.

“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 told Radio Times. “How much he liked it. Only one life.”

Hauer was a natural brunette, but his hair was bleached a whitish-blond for his Blade Runner role. “The bleach hurts,” he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 1981. “Now I know why some suffer to be blond.”

The actor began his theater career in the Netherlands, made several films in Germany, and then moved to American movies with the Sylvester Stallone 1981 film Nighthawks, following it up with Blade Runner. 

In that 1981 Sarasota Herald-Tribune article, he said a Hollywood agent suggested he change his name to something more familiar to Americans, but he declined. “If you’re good enough, people will remember your name,” he told the paper.

In addition to Blade Runner, other films included Ladyhawke, The Hitcher, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Batman Begins. He won a Golden Globe award for the TV movie Escape from Sobibor.

As news of Hauer’s death spread, both his famous friends and regular fans alike remembered him online. Director Guillermo del Toro called him “an intense, deep, genuine and magnetic actor that brought truth, power and beauty to his films.” 

He is survived by his wife Ineke. The couple was together for 50 years. 

Originally published July 24, 10:40 a.m. PT.