Delivering some of the most memorable lines in sci-fi history as Blade Runner’s replicant leader, Roy Batty, Rutger Hauer appeared destined for stardom. However, during the 80s he was typecast, appearing in a number of sci-fi and fantasy b-movies. With his menacing yet serene voice, and icy, piercing stare, Hauer’s back catalogue is brimming with cult performances worth catching.
Flesh + Blood (1985) – Several years after Blade Runner, Hauer dialled up the menace in Paul Verhoeven‘s ultra-violent sword-and-sandal epic. His character, Martin, is unrelentingly brutal. Hauer’s detached demeanour made him perfect as a character that intermittently goes berserk, tearing up scenery in an orgy of decadence, rape, and murder.
Lady Hawke (1985) – In the same year, Hauer’s range as an actor, evident in Blade Runner, came to the fore in his noble portrayal of Captain ‘Etienne Navarre’. While Flesh and Blood was dark and unforgiving, Lady Hawke difference tonally, being jovial and idealistic. Hauer’s Navarre demonstrates a capacity for love and honour – of Goethean proportions in his romantic certitude – rarely seen in his body of work.
The Hitcher (1986) – Long before road movie-thrillers had become a tired sub-genre, Hauer’s psychotic portrayal of John Ryder deeply unnerved audiences. Hauer was born to play this ice cool serial killer, whose machinations torment the protagonist. Here his menace hogs the screen, exuding a sinister vibe throughout an underrated, mostly forgotten film.
Split Second (1992) – Although not his greatest performance, Hauer’s paranoid detective, Harley Stone, is a lot of fun. Tracking down a mysterious figure in dystopian London, He channels Rowdy Roddy Piper’s character from John Carpenter’s They Live. He clearly relishes the role in what is a unique b-movie that blends comedy, mystery, and dystopian themes, in a refreshing way.
Sin City (2005) – Of all the inspired casting in Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, Hauer’s short-lived role as Cardinal Roark shines the brightest. Aged and heavier than his heyday, Hauer gives a haunting and exceedingly creepy performance as a corrupt, sociopathic bishop. His dramatic delivery and indifferent, disturbing gaze have not been utilised this effectively since his head-turning role as Roy Batty, all those years ago.