Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner co-star, dies at 75

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Rutger Hauer, the versatile Dutch leading man of the 1970s who went on star in the 1982 Blade Runner as Roy Batty, has died at his home in the Netherlands after a short illness. He was 75.

Hauer's agent, Steve Kenis, confirmed the news and said that Hauer's funeral was held on Wednesday.

His most cherished performance came in a film that was a resounding flop on its original release. In 1982, he portrayed the murderous yet soulful Roy Batty, leader of a gang of outlaw replicants, opposite Harrison Ford in Ridley Scott's sci-fi noir opus Blade Runner. The picture became a widely influential cult favourite, and Batty proved to be Hauer's most indelible role.

More recently, he appeared in a pair of 2005 films: as Cardinal Roark in Sin City, and as the corporate villain who Bruce Wayne discovers is running the Wayne Corp. in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins.

In True Blood, he played Niall Brigant, the king of the tribe from which the Stackhouse family is descended and the faerie grandfather to Sookie, Jason Stackhouse and Hunter Savoy. Hauer also recurred on ABC's medieval musical comedy Galavant as Kingsley in 2015.

He was a natural at horror and vampire roles, starring as Van Helsing in Dario Argento's Dracula 3D, and as the vampire Barlow in the 2004 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot along with Rob Lowe, Andre Braugher and Donald Sutherland.

Handsome, energetic and fluent in several languages, Hauer made his first mark in the late '60s in the Netherlands as the star of Paul Verhoeven's medieval TV series Floris. He vaulted to the top ranks of Dutch stardom in 1973 opposite Monique van de Ven in Verhoeven's sexually explosive drama Turkish Delight, which became a box-office smash and garnered an Oscar nod as best foreign film.

After three more Dutch features with Verhoeven that became art-house successes in the US, Hauer segued to a Hollywood career with a flashy role as a terrorist in the 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller Nighthawks.

Hauer increasingly turned to action-oriented parts in the '80s: He toplined the big-budget fantasy Ladyhawke (1985), reteamed with fellow Hollywood transplant Verhoeven in the sword-and-armor epic Flesh & Blood (1985), starred as a psychotic killer in The Hitcher (1986), and took Steve McQueen's shotgun-toting bounty hunter role in a modern reboot of the TV Western Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986).

His major artistic triumph came in Ermanno Olmi's Italian production The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988); his sensitive turn as a homeless drunk and petty criminal who finds redemption in Paris carried the feature, which collected the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

During the '90s, Hauer gravitated to more routine roles in American and international productions and played the vampire lord Lothos in the original film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

He was active in social causes as an outspoken sponsor of the environmental organisation Greenpeace and the founder the Starfish Association, a non-profit devoted to AIDS awareness.

He is survived by his second wife of 50 years, Ineke ten Cate, and a daughter, actress Aysha Hauer, from his marriage to Heidi Merz.

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