What is it that makes actor Rutger Hauer so iconically creepy?
Maybe it's the eyes -- wide, icy and piercing. Perhaps it's his Aryan, robustly European face. Or the shock-blonde hair. Whatever it is, Hauer has stood out on-screen even in trash, and thanks to the one unadulterated classic on his resume -- Ridley Scott's timeless science fiction masterpiece, "Blade Runner" -- he has developed a dedicated legion of followers.
Whether or not the replicant-obsessed throngs of "Blade Runner" adorers will rush out to purchase Hauer's autobiography, "All Those Moments," I'm not sure. But they, or anyone fascinated with the cinema, should indeed seek the book out -- it's fun, slightly odd and a relentlessly likable window into the cranium of a true character actor.
Part of what makes the text, and Hauer himself, so endearing is his forthrightness. As "All Those Moments" begins, it is early 2004, and a small-budget flick that had been ready to roll in Los Angeles suddenly went kaput. (The plot, Hauer writes, "had something to do with a virus and the Internet and the fate of mankind," so perhaps its premature death was no big loss.) Hauer was disappointed, but not because he expected the film to be a classic; financial reasons led to his sadness. His lease in Santa Monica was up, and he says: "I couldn't be sure I'd get enough work during the year to justify it."
This comes from an actor that's about as honest as honest can be, and that's a refreshing twist in the thespian world, which is often a bastion of sycophants.
Ironically, another film came up instead -- Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins." As are several other young, hot filmmakers, Nolan was a major "Blade" fan and offered the actor a plum role -- just like Robert Rodriguez, who cast Hauer in "Sin City," and even George Clooney, who directed him to a killer performance in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind." Such is the life of an aging actor.
Hauer knows that "Blade Runner" will likely forever be seen as his peak, and dammit, he's running with it. The title "All Those Moments," after all, comes from the film's finale. Roy Batty, the hyper-intelligent behemoth replicant so perfectly played by Hauer utters the tragic lines on an L.A. rooftop, while pounded with raindrops, to Harrison Ford's put-upon private eye, Deckard.
It is a stunning moment in a wonderfully fascinating film -- a scene of compassion and beauty following an explosive, knock-down brawl between hunter and hunted. It is Hauer at his best.
Not surprisingly, the "Blade Runner" anecdotes constitute the book's most interesting moments. The film's vast sets, dubbed "Ridleyville" by cast and crew, were elaborately ahead of their time, and the cast, from a punked-out Darryl Hannah to a pre-"Miami Vice" Edward James Olmos, fit the milieu of future-grime ideally. (Interesting note: "I barely even saw Harrison Ford," Hauer writes.)
Hauer spends a significant chunk of his book discussing the film and its impact on his life and offers forth some treats for fans. For instance, he does not adhere to the oft-debated theory that Ford's Deckard is actually a replicant. "If Deckard himself is a machine, then the whole story of a battle of wits and wills between man and machine dies for me."
Maybe. Whatever the case may be, his assessment of "Blade Runner" is dead-on: "This is a great movie -- one that is beautiful, dark, wicked, poetic, exotic and beautiful."
There is much, much more of interest in "All Those Moments," such as Hauer's early days as an actor in Europe, his battles with Sylvester Stallone on the set of "Nighthawks" and his work in the fight against AIDS in Africa via a charity organization he founded called Starfish Organization.
The book might not be the expected dishy tell-all, or an angry diatribe against the well-tailored suits who run the business, but that's not Rutger Hauer (neither, for that matter is Roy Batty). No, Hauer is his own man, and "All Those Moments" lets that man take a bow.
Christopher Schobert is a freelance Buffalo reviewer.
All Those Moments
By Rutger Hauer with Patrick Quinlan
HarperEntertainment, 272 pages, $24.95