Tall, strikingly handsome Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, the son of drama teachers, ran away from his Amsterdam home at age 15 and spent a year aboard a freighter. After coming home, he took a variety of odd jobs while attending night classes to study acting. Afterwards he joined an experimental theater troupe, remaining with them for five years. He then landed a role in a Dutch TV series in which he played a swashbuckler. He debuted onscreen as the lead in Paul Verhoeven's erotically graphic film Turkish Delight (1973); his English-speaking debut came two years later in Ralph Nelson's The Wilby Conspiracy (1975), but it failed to establish him in Hollywood and he returned to making European films. He finally broke through in America as the sociopathic cold-blooded terrorist in the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Nighthawks (1981), after which he was frequently cast as steel-cold heavies in American films. However, his range extends beyond bad guys, as shown (for example) in his role oppposite Michelle Pfeiffer in the medieval romance Ladyhawke (1985). Most of his films since 1981 have been made in America.