Hauer’s entire career is characterized by elusiveness; it is impossible to pinpoint him on genre, type of character, or the scale or format of the productions he stars in, and this is what makes his oeuvre so exciting. Also in 2011.
With his piercing blue eyes, blond hair, and chilling performances, Rutger Hauer is not an actor you will quickly forget. At 67, he is more prolific than ever, with around seven films (depending on which country you live in) in cinemas this year. With international successes such as Blade Runner and The Hitcher, Hauer is one of the very few Dutch actors who have forged a successful career in Hollywood, and in the process singlehandedly gave Dutch cinema a face. Hauer’s entire career is characterized by elusiveness; it is impossible to pinpoint him on genre, type of character, or the scale or format of the productions he stars in, and this is what makes his oeuvre so exciting. This Wednesday -- on the first day of the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival -- he was honored with a Career Achievement Award. With all these accolades coming his way and a whole host of new films coming our way, it is the perfect time for a guidebook to Rutger Hauer’s 2011.
The Netherlands and the United States are the two defining countries of his career. Ever since he catapulted into the limelight with the risqué Dutch Turkish Delight, Hauer has found himself going back and forth between the two. With a major starring role in Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D coming up and his recent appearance in the coldly received exorcism-thriller The Rite, Dutch journalists again confronted Hauer with the by-now completely superfluous question: what about The Netherlands? Hauer grasped the award ceremony as an opportunity to remind all those present that he hasn’t forgotten his “Dutch soul.” The grass, the water, the humor, and even the reserved attitude of the people, Hauer loves it all. He currently resides in the province of Friesland, a province all the way up north characterized by an abundance of lakes and natural beauty and the relative absence of people.
Hauer has often said that living there keeps him grounded. “To say it very black-and-white, the Dutch have a no-nonsense attitude towards celebrities,” he remarked in an interview with Dutch Veronica Magazine (2011/14). Indeed, it is commonly accepted in the Netherlands that the infamous saying ‘doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg’ (which roughly translates to ‘just act normal, that’s already crazy enough’) applies most to Friesland. But Hauer also has a special relation with the United States, the country that has given him grand opportunities and major box office successes. He even took an intensive English course at the end of the 1970s to realize his dream of starring in an American production. While he doesn’t always understand the fuss around his person, he also views it as a compliment, “because I was in a movie that became part of their life [Blade Runner]. This January, Hauer was once again an audience-favorite in the US. Two of his films premiered at Sundance, both to critical acclaim. He also filmed two Dutch productions, which both have the intention of selling to international distributors as well.
The Polish film poster for
The Mill and the Cross
I had the pleasure of seeing this film a few weeks ago. It is inspired by Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 painting “The Procession to Calvary,” and Hauer has the honor of bringing the grand master to life. The film meticulously traces the nexus of the painting, and has Hauer sitting in front of the work explaining the rationale behind the composition and the backgrounds of some of the characters. Director Lech Majewski successfully transports the viewer into the painting, and reveals the contentious situation in Flanders that gave rise to it. Majewski is a painter himself, and it shows. The film is visually perfect, and Hauer’s narrations are amusing and bring life to a subject that would normally not be able to count on such a wide audience.
Hauer and Van Houten in Black Butterflies
Hauer filming in The Hague last week