Born Rutger Oelsen Hauer on 23rd January 1944 in Breukelen in the Netherlands during the occupation of the Netherlands by the German army, to parents Teunke (Nee Mellema) and Arend Hauer (two actors who operated an acting school near Amsterdam). Hauer stated in interviews later that being born in the middle of a war was the reason he had deep roots in pacifism, violence frightened him.
After leaving school at the age of 15, Hauer joined the Dutch merchant navy and after a year travelling the world, he found he couldn’t progress to Captain due to a colour-blindness issue. Returning home and not knowing what to do with himself, he enroled in the Academy for Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam but dropped out to join the Royal Netherlands Army where he trained to be a combat medic. Due to his pacifism, he left the service and returned to the acting school and graduated in 1967.
Hauer’s acting career is vast, he started his career in stage productions and made his screen debut playing the lead role in the Paul Verhoeven 1969 television series Floris. The role gained him fame in the Netherlands and he reprised the role in a German re-production called Floris Von Rosemund. Working again with Paul Verhoeven, Hauer found international fame in the 1973 film Turkish Delight. And within two years Hauer made his English speaking debut in the film The Wilby Conspiracy but his role was barely noticed in Hollywood so he continued to work in the Netherlands with another Verhoeven film Soldier of Orange and Spetters, both films working alongside his friend Jerome Krabbe. These films gained him the Golden Calf for Best Actor at the 1981 Netherlands Film festival.
In 1981 Hollywood came knocking and Hauer was cast as the psychopathic and cold-blooded terrorist Wulfgar in the Stallone lead film Nighthawks. That lead to a portrayal of Albert Speer in the 1982 ABC production of Inside the Third Reich and then he appeared in the role that he is arguably the most noted of his career, that of Roy Batty, the eccentric, violent but sympathetic antihero opposite Harrison Ford in Ridley Scotts’s Blade Runner. The famous Tears in the Rain monologue was rewritten by Hauer the night before and he cut out swathes of dialogue. This role lead on to a list of films such as Eureka, The Osterman Weekend, Flesh & Blood, Ladyhawke, The Hitcher, Escape from Sobibor, where he received the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 1987, Wanted Dead or Alive, The Legend of the Holy Drinker (which won him another award), Blind Fury, and The Blood of Heroes.
By the 1990’s Hauer had become synonymous with the Guinness brand after being in numerous commercials for them. Never to be afraid of whom he portrayed, he had other screen roles in films such as Split Second, The Beans of Egypt, Maine, Omega Doom, and New World Disorder. He acted in several American, Canadian, and British productions such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight, Fatherland, Hostile Waters, The Call of The Wild: Dog of the Yukon, Merlin, The 10th Kingdom, Smllville, Alias and Salem’s Lot. He appeared in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Sin City, Batman Begins, Dracula III: Legacy and later in Dracula 3D. His movie career was so extensive and eclectic.
In his final years, he voiced the British commercials for Lurpak butter . He wa honoured with the Golden Calf Culture Proize for his contributions to Dutch cinema and helping young actors. He starred in the Grindhouse film Hobbo With a Shotgun. Nearly every film and show he appeared in garnered him a prestigious award.
He also voiced video games, Observer and Kingdom of Hearts III replacing the late Leonard Nimoy.
He was an environmentalist, he supported the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, he established an AIDS awareness organisation called The Rutger Hauer Starfish Association. In April 2007 he published his autobiography, All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants and Blade Runners.
He was married twice, firstly to Heidi Merz and they had a daughter Aysha Hauer. He was married to his second wife in 1985 although they had been together since 1968.
Hauer died on 19th July 2019 at his home in Beetsterzwaag following an unspecified illness, he was 75.