RIP Rutger Hauer
Every year celebrities die and we sit back and say "Oh yeah, I remember that guy. He was in that one movie with the aliens. That sucks." and then immediately go back to our daily business. I get it - I do it like everyone else - and that's frankly a perfectly reasonable reaction.
This one hit me pretty hard though.
When I'm not playing/fixing up old games, I'm also an avid movie watcher. Blade Runner is my favorite film of all time, and that's largely thanks to Rutger Hauer who is absolutely the star of the show. It has all the requisite exquisitely detailed sci fi trappings (and I adore all that stuff too, don't get me wrong), but at its core it's a film about a man (Deckard / Harrison Ford) who loses touch with humanity because of a soul-crushing occupation, who regains his humanity because of someone who isn't human (Roy Batty / Rutger Hauer). Well, not technically human anyway - because Roy is by all other measures the most human character in the film. "More human than human" is an apt motto. His crime is wanting to live, to feel, and to be free; to surpass the limitations placed on him by those around him and protect the people he loves. He might not be the protagonist, but he is the hero.
Rutger's performance in Blade Runner resonated so strongly with me that I went on to become a lifelong fan of his work in other films, from more well known flicks like Ladyhawke, The Hitcher, and Blind Fury to more obscure affairs like The Blood of Heroes, Split Second, Flesh+Blood, Omega Doom, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and Hobo With A Shotgun. He was always the star of the show, even when he didn't get top billing. He had a charisma and magnetism that made him immediately likeable and entertaining, even in films of otherwise dubious quality. There are a few that I've been putting off for a bit like Legend of the Holy Drinker... I'll have to change that. I have the feeling that rewatching Blade Runner at this point is going to take on a slightly different quality for me now... I'll admit that I'm slightly dreading that, as I'll likely be a hot mess by the time it's over.
I had actually just started reading his autobiography - "All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Blade Runners" - about a week before he died. It's been a really interesting read thus far. He did more by the time he was 20 than I've done in my entire life. At 16 he left home to be a deck hand on a freighter. He traveled all around the world and saw a lot of interesting, weird, and bad things. He came back home a few years later, wasn't sure what he wanted to do, studied acting briefly at the encouragement of his parents (who were both actors) before flunking out, joined the army, realized that wasn't for him, then went back to school for acting and stuck with it. He then, somewhat inadvertently, ended up becoming a huge star in his country (Netherlands) by staring in what (to everyone's surprise) ended up becoming the most popular TV series that had ever been produced there, which was directed by the then fledgling Paul Verhoeven. He worked in stage acting for quite a while, traveling around the countryside with a troupe, bringing Shakespear to folks out in the boonies. Sometimes a "stage" was literally a parking lot or a field. Their audiences adored them just the same. He met Ineke, the woman that became his wife, some time before all this, and they remained together until the day he died - for 50 years. My deepest sympathies for her and the rest of his family.
Hearing his stories just make me appreciate him even more. He went through a lot of difficult times and a lot of uncertainty in his life, but he carried on made the best of it - not just surviving, but thriving. It's introspection-inducing and inspiring.
All those moments won't be lost. Blade Runner is a masterpiece, one that will no doubt be watched and talked about long after I've turned to dust. That's due, in no small part, to you Rutger. So thank you for that - thank you for the memories, for the inspiration, and for the tears. Enjoy the view passed the shoulder of Orion.