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'Blade Runner' actor on 'strange profession'

Story Highlights

• Rutger Hauer, son of actors, was unsure about the profession
• Hauer was one of first Dutch TV stars
• His favorite role is as Roy Batty in "Blade Runner"
By Todd Leopold
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(CNN) -- In the early 1980s, Rutger Hauer had a choice. Some producers wanted him to star in a movie about a German U-boat called "Das Boot."

Hauer wasn't an unknown at the time. He was a leading Dutch film star, having appeared in the country's first smash TV show, "Floris," and two big European movies, "Turkish Delight" and Paul Verhoeven's "Soldier of Orange."

He had even made an impression on American audiences with his performance as a German terrorist in the Sylvester Stallone action film "Nighthawks."

But had he taken "Das Boot," he writes in his new memoir, "All Those Moments" (HarperCollins; co-written with Patrick Quinlan), he "would have been committed to a long shoot" -- 14 months, as "Das Boot" was released as a miniseries in Europe -- and yet another role as a German. He didn't want to be typecast, and he didn't want to devote more than a year of his life to a project, so he passed.

Good for Hauer. The next opportunity to come along was "Blade Runner."

Ridley Scott's 1982 film -- about a hard-boiled detective pursuing "replicants," genetically engineered androids, in rainy, environmentally despoiled 21st-century Los Angeles -- made Hauer's name. He played Roy Batty, a genius replicant pursued by detective Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford.

It's also the gift that keeps giving, 25 years later. The film is getting a director's cut theatrical release this summer and a special edition DVD in the fall, and it's gone from box-office bust to renowned cult object, perhaps the most highly revered adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story the movies have done.

It's also given Hauer a fount of stories, many of which he tells in "All Those Moments" (whose title comes from a speech Batty gives in the film).

He credits the film's staying power to "[the meeting of] two of the most brilliant minds -- Philip K. Dick and Ridley Scott combined," he says in a phone interview from his home near Los Angeles, California. "It became a film of enormous depth, which is why it's lived for so long."

Hauer grew up the son of actors, though he wasn't initially attracted to the profession. In "All Those Moments," he describes signing on as a mate on a freighter out of his native Amsterdam, which took him all over the world. He was 15. A year later he returned to the Netherlands and eventually drifted into acting, joining a small touring company that brought theater to towns and villages.

"Floris" made him a Dutch star at 25, but it wasn't until "Nighthawks" -- more than a decade later -- that America noticed the handsome actor.

For Hauer, the shoot was difficult -- he lost two close relatives while filming -- and his co-star was more so.

After an early scene was changed without his knowledge -- Stallone had been tinkering with the script -- Hauer accosted the Italian Stallion and threatened to break a delicate part of his anatomy. "Stallone had his fingers in everything," Hauer recalls in the book.

"Blade Runner" was a completely different story. "I felt great making 'Blade Runner,' " he writes.

"I felt like I was walking on the inside of [the character's] skull, and I liked it there," he recalls on the phone. Scott was a perfectionist, he adds, but also willing to let the actors play around with the characters. In creating Roy Batty, "I gave him enough options," Hauer says.

Others have had less complimentary things to say about Scott over the years. The crew was worked hard, trying to complete filming before a proposed actors' strike; Scott, coming off the successful "Alien," locked horns with Ford.

Yes, there was tension, Hauer says -- even he walked off the set in anger and fatigue after 25 hours under unrelenting rain machines -- but that's a part of the filmmaking process.

"I thank God for Ridley's perfectionism," he says, noting that Scott was willing to sacrifice his financial interests to get the film finished.

Hauer's had regular appearances since "Blade Runner," including a role as the villainous title character in "The Hitcher," guest shots in "Smallville" and "Alias" and a performance as the malevolent corporate mogul in "Batman Begins." He also is active in AIDS awareness, and is putting the money brought in by "All Those Moments" into his Rutger Hauer Starfish Association, which helps to combat the disease.

But he readily offers that "Blade Runner's" Batty is his favorite role, a time when he put all the knowledge of his craft out front. And his career, which has taken him into exotic countries and exotic personalities, hasn't been half-bad, either.

Not bad for a guy who, watching his parents, wasn't sure he wanted to become an actor.

"I wondered, 'Why do people move so slowly and speak so loudly?' " he recalls. "What a strange profession."


Rutger Hauer appears in an ominous shot from "Blade Runner."


Philip K. Dick works that have been made into movies:

  • "Blade Runner" (1982) (from "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?")
  • "Total Recall" (1990) (from "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale")
  • "Screamers" (1995) (from "Second Variety")
  • "Imposter" (2002)
  • "Minority Report" (2002)
  • "Paycheck" (2003)
  • "A Scanner Darkly" (2006)
  • "Next" (2007) (from "The Golden Man")
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