Blonde, blue-eyed, tall, and very handsome Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has an international reputation for playing everything from romantic leads to action heroes to sinister villains. The son of actors, Hauer was born in Breukelen, Holland. Because his parents were often touring, Hauer and his three sisters were raised by a nanny. A bit of a rebel during his childhood, he chafed at the rules and rigors of school and was often getting into mischief. His grandfather had been the captain of a schooner, and at age 15, Hauer ran away to work on a freighter for a year. Like his great-grandfather, Hauer is colorblind, which prevented him from furthering his career as a sailor. Upon his return, he attended night school and started working in the construction industry. When he again bombed at school, his parents enrolled him in drama classes. Fancying himself a poet, Hauer spent most of his time writing poetry and hanging out in Amsterdam coffee houses instead of studying. He got expelled for poor attendance and afterward spent a brief time in the Dutch Navy. Deciding he didn't like military life, Hauer convinced his superiors that he was mentally unfit and was sent to a special home for psych patients. It was an unpleasant place, but Hauer remained there until he convinced his ranking officers that the military really did not need him.
Upon his return to Amsterdam, Hauer again enrolled in acting school; he graduated three years later and joined a traveling experimental theater troupe. Five years later he was cast as a dashing swashbuckler in a Dutch television series. He made his film debut in Monsieur Hawarden (1969), but did not make a name for himself until director Paul Verhoeven cast him as a bohemian sculptor in the erotic drama Turks Fruit (Turkish Delight) in 1973. At one point in the story, Hauer faced the camera fully nude. It would not be the last time in which he would do full frontal nudity in his early career. In 1975, the actor made his English-language debut playing a womanizing Afrikaner opposite Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine in Ralph Nelson's The Wilby Conspiracy.
Hauer did not make an impression in Hollywood until he was cast as a psychopathic terrorist opposite Sylvester Stallone in Nighthawks (1981). Always excelling in villainous roles, his next major American appearance is also one of his most famous, that of Roy Batty, one of the rebellious Nexus 6 replicants in Blade Runner (1982). He received kudos for his work in the romantic medieval fantasy Ladyhawke (1985) and in Italian director Ermanno Olmi's drama La Leggenda Del Santo Bevitore (The Legend of the Holy Drinker) (1988). In the latter film, Hauer showed that he was more than a pretty boy-action hero by letting his sensitive, gentle side appear. During the '90s, Hauer regularly appeared in lower-budget films and occasionally in such made-for-TV movies as the well-wrought Call of the Wild (1997). In the early '90s, Hauer tickled and puzzled audiences by appearing in a series of commercials for Guinness. He continued to work steadily in projects as diverse as Merlin, The 10th Kingdom, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He appeared in the blockbuster Batman Begins in 2005, and that same year he had a role in the remake of The Poseidon Adventure, as well as a small part in Sin City. 2011 turned out to be one of his busiest years that was highlighted by a major part in The Mill & the Cross, his playing the lead in the feature-length version of Hobo With a Shotgun, and appearing in the horror film The Rite.