Rutger Hauer, 'Blade Runner' co-star, dies at 75

Rutger Hauer, the versatile Dutch leading man of the ’70s who went on star in the 1982 “Blade Runner” as Roy Batty, died July 19 at his home in the Netherlands after a short illness. He was 75.

Hauer’s agent, Steve Kenis, confirmed the news and said that Hauer’s funeral was held Wednesday.

His most cherished performance came in a film that was a resounding flop on its original release. In 1982, he portrayed the murderous yet soulful Roy Batty, leader of a gang of outlaw replicants, opposite Harrison Ford in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir opus “Blade Runner.” The picture became a widely influential cult favorite, and Batty proved to be Hauer’s most indelible role.

More recently, he appeared in a pair of 2005 films: as Cardinal Roark in “Sin City,” and as the corporate villain who Bruce Wayne discovers is running the Wayne Corp. in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.”

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Rutget Hauer through the years
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Rutget Hauer through the years
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the Los Angeles special screening of 'The Letters' at the Landmark Theatre on December 3, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, Rutger Hauer, Rune Temte and Emily Cox attend a photocall for "The Last Kingdom" at Charlotte Street Hotel on September 8, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Rutger Hauer attends a photocall for "The Last Kingdom" at Charlotte Street Hotel on September 8, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images,)
GALAVANT - "Death After Brunch" - Thinking about being in a relationship, Isabella wants Galavant to try to impress her parents with attentive small talk, but he's confident that breaking everyone out of prison will impress them and save them from certain death. Galavant gets his opportunity for a hero moment when King Richard challenges his brother to a duel and needs a champion to fight for him, on "Galavant," airing SUNDAY, JANUARY 25 (8:00-8:30 p.m., ET) on the Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Television Network. (Photo by Nick Ray/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images via Getty Images)
GALAVANT - "Dungeons and Dragon Lady" - While Galavant struggles with the realization about his true love, King Richard goes on a voyage of self-discovery, thanks to a potion from the magician, Xanax (guest star Ricky Gervais). As Galavant draws closer to the woman he really loves, an emboldened King Richard starts to assert himself, just as his meaner, elder brother returns-Kingsley (Rutger Hauer) on "Galavant," airing SUNDAY, JANUARY 18 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET) on the Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Television Network. (Photo by Daniel Liam/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images via Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - MARCH 29: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the 2014 Monsterpalooza: The Art Of Monsters Convention held at Marriott Airport Hotel on March 29, 2014 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 02: Rutger Hauer attends the 'Sights Of Death' Pre Berlinale Party at NUR BAR on February 2, 2014 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 23: Actor Rutger Hauer attends"'Sights Of Death" photocall in Rome - Villa Borghese (Photo byAndrea Ciucci/NurPhoto) (Photo by NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 11: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the season 6 premiere of HBO's "True Blood" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on June 11, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Actor Rutger Hauer attends "The Future" premiere at Prospector Square during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Kristin Murphy/Getty Images)
BOLOGNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08: Dutch actor Rutger Hauer meets the audience at Cineteca di Bologna on September 8, 2012 in Bologna, Italy. (Photo by Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Dutch actor Rutger Hauer poses on October 17, 2011 before the premiere of the film "The Heineken Kidnapping" by Maarten Treurniet in Amsterdam. AFP PHOTO / ILVY NJIOKIKTJIEN - netherlands out - belgium out - (Photo credit should read Ilvy Njiokiktjien/AFP/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the "Il Villaggio di Cartone" Premiere during the 68th Venice International Film Festival at Palazzo del Casino on September 6, 2011 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 27: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the "Life In A Day" Premiere at the Eccles Center Theatre during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Rutger Hauer attends the Cinema Cafe 1 at the Filmmaker's Lounge during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 05: Actor Rutger Hauer attends "Chiambretti Night" Italian TV Show held at Mediaset Studios on October 5, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 06: Rutger Hauer attends the launch of "Blade Runner - The Final Cut" at the Jam Factory on December 6, 2007 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kane Hibberd/Getty Images)
AP OUT AP OUT: Director of the film Ridley Scott (2nd left) with the cast Edward James Olmos (left), Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer at the premiere for 'Blade Runner: The Final Cut'', at the Venice Film Festival in Italy. (Photo by Yui Mok - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Edward James Olmos and Rutger Hauer during a photocall for the film 'Blade Runner: The Final Cut', at the Venice Film Festival in Italy, Saturday 1 September 2007. (Photo by Yui Mok - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Rutger Hauer during "Sin City" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann National Premiere in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
MELBOURNE - MAY 27: German actor Rutger Hauer at the opening night of the 20th St Kilda Film Festival, at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda, Victoria, Australia. (Photo by Regis MArtin/Getty Images).
Dutch actor Rutger Hauer arriving for the Hallmark Entertainment Network UK launch, held at Claridge's Hotel, in Brook Street, London. (Photo by Michael Crabtree - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JULY 24: Actor Rutger Hauer departs for New York City on July 24, 1997 from the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 4: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the Big Sisters Guild of Los Angeles Sterling Award Salute to Kathleen Kennedy on November 4, 1994 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 6: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the Screening of the TNT Original Movie "Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight" on June 6, 1994 at the DGA Theatre in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JANUARY 16: Actor Rutger Hauer and actress Penelope Ann Miller attend the 15th Annual CableACE Awards on January 16, 1994 at Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Rutger Hauer during an interview with host Jay Leno on September 1, 1992 (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 18: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the 49th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 18, 1992 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Dutch actor Rutger Hauer poses against a black background, October 1990. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Iconic Images/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 27: Actor Rutger Hauer and wife Ineke ten Kate attend the Seventh Annual American Cinema Awards on January 27, 1990 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 9: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the Third Annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards on April 9, 1988 at Rosalie's Restaurant, 385 N. La Cienega Blvd. in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 18: Actor Rutger Hauer attends "The Hitcher" Westwood Premiere on February 18, 1986 at the Mann National Theatre in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 23: Actor Rutger Hauer attends the 45th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 23, 1988 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Headshot of actor Rutger Hauer, as he appears in the movie 'Blade Runner', 1982. (Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)
Rutger Hauer on the set of "Blade Runner", directed by Ridley Scott. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, as replicant Roy Batty, in a scene from Ridley Scott's futuristic thriller 'Blade Runner', 1982. (Photo by Warner Bros./Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Rutger Hauer, 1980s. (Photo by Film Favorites/Getty Images)
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In “True Blood,” he played Niall Brigant, the king of the tribe from which the Stackhouse family is descended and the faerie grandfather to Sookie, Jason Stackhouse and Hunter Savoy. Hauer also recurred on ABC’s medieval musical comedy “Galavant” as Kingsley in 2015.

He was a natural at horror and vampire roles, starring as Van Helsing in Dario Argento’s “Dracula 3D,” and as the vampire Barlow in the 2004 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” along with Rob LoweAndre Braugher and Donald Sutherland. 

Handsome, energetic and fluent in several languages, Hauer made his first mark in the late ‘60s in the Netherlands as the star of Paul Verhoeven’s medieval TV series “Floris.” He vaulted to the top ranks of Dutch stardom in 1973 opposite Monique van de Ven in Verhoeven’s sexually explosive drama “Turkish Delight,” which became a box-office smash and garnered an Oscar nod as best foreign film.

After three more Dutch features with Verhoeven that became art-house successes in the U.S., Hauer segued to a Hollywood career with a flashy role as a terrorist in the 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller “Nighthawks.”

Hauer increasingly turned to action-oriented parts in the ‘80s: He toplined the big-budget fantasy “Ladyhawke” (1985), reteamed with fellow Hollywood transplant Verhoeven in the sword-and-armor epic “Flesh & Blood” (1985), starred as a psychotic killer in “The Hitcher” (1986), and took Steve McQueen’s shotgun-toting bounty hunter role in a modern reboot of the TV Western “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1986).

His major artistic triumph came in Ermanno Olmi’s Italian production “The Legend of the Holy Drinker” (1988); his sensitive turn as a homeless drunk and petty criminal who finds redemption in Paris carried the feature, which collected the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

During the ‘90s, Hauer gravitated to more routine roles in American and international productions and played the vampire lord Lothos in the original film version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

He debuted as a small screen star as Nazi official Albert Speer in the 1982 telefilm adaptation of Speer’s book “Inside the Third Reich.” His most admired TV work came in projects that turned on World War II themes: He received Golden Globe nominations for his performances as the leader of a concentration camp revolt in “Escape From Sobibor” (1987) and an SS officer in the alternate-universe drama “Fatherland” (1994).

He was born Jan. 23, 1944, in Breukelen, the Netherlands, near Amsterdam. Though both his parents were acting teachers, he took a circuitous route to the craft. He ran away from home at 15 to join the Dutch merchant navy; after returning to Amsterdam in 1962 he briefly studied acting, but exited school again for a stint in the army.

Finally committing himself to the stage, he became a member of the touring experimental troupe Noorder Compagnie, in which he acted, directed and served as costume designer and translator for several years.

His major break came in 1969 when Verhoeven cast him in the title role of “Floris,” an Ivanhoe-like knight who becomes embroiled in court intrigue upon his return from the Crusades. The show proved wildly popular, and Hauer reprised the part in a 1975 revival of the series, “Floris von Rosemund.”

By that time, the steamy, affecting “Turkish Delight” had firmly established him as the Netherlands’ top B.O. attraction. He reunited with Verhoeven and his co-star van de Ven for the period drama “Katie Tippel” (1975); he renewed his collaboration with the director with the World War II saga “Soldier of Orange” (1977) and the bold contemporary drama “Spetters” (1980).

Hauer made an almost immediate and intense impression as Batty in his sophomore American feature “Blade Runner,” an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” He wrote his own dialog for the film’s climactic face-off with his adversary Ford. Though the film swiftly fell off screens, it remains a genre landmark today, in no small measure because of Hauer’s electrifying performance.

Olmi’s “The Legend of the Holy Drinker” brought him possibly the best notices of his career, but it failed to attract great attention beyond art-house audiences, and Hauer soon became a familiar and prolific supporting player in a variety of genre pictures, several of which went direct to home video. He shot seven features in 2001 alone.

He was active in social causes as an outspoken sponsor of the environmental organization Greenpeace and the founder the Starfish Association, a non-profit devoted to AIDS awareness.

He is survived by his second wife of 50 years, Ineke ten Cate, and a daughter, actress Aysha Hauer, from his marriage to Heidi Merz.

— Carmel Dagan contributed to this report.

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