Rutger Hauer on 'Blade Runner 2049' and Why Films Today "Lack Balls"

The veteran Dutch actor spoke to THR at the Berlin Film Festival, where he is promoting his new film, the biblical action drama 'Samson.'

Discovered by Paul Verhoeven, who launched his global career with performances in Turkish Delight (1973) and Soldier of Orange (1977), Dutch actor Rutger Hauer seared himself into cinema history with the “Tears in the Rain” speech (parts of which he wrote himself) in Ridley Scott's original Blade Runner.

He is in Berlin to promote Pure Flix's biblical action drama Samson, in which he plays Manoah, the father of the legendary strongman (played by Taylor James). 

Hauer, 74, spoke to THR about his favorite roles, why films today “lack balls” and his take on the Blade Runner sequel.

Have you seen Blade Runner 2049?

I sniff and scratch at it. It looks great but I struggle to see why that film was necessary. I just think if something is so beautiful, you should just leave it alone and make another film. Don't lean with one elbow on the success that was earned over 30 years in the underground. In many ways, Blade Runner wasn't about the replicants, it was about what does it mean to be human? It's like E.T. But I'm not certain what the question was in the second Blade Runner. It's not a character-driven movie and there's no humor, there's no love, there's no soul. You can see the homage to the original. But that's not enough to me. I knew that wasn't going to work. But I think it's not important what I think.

How has the film industry changed since you started back in the 1970s

The big movies now are such an industry where the money has to come back as soon as possible. With a little movie you have a little more room to move. The eye of the director and the point of view of the filmmaker has suffered [in big films] in the past decades. I look for hard balls. And I don't see much balls in most films today. When I started out, the films would go into the theaters and they would play as long as they would play. My first feature, Turkish Delight, was a success in Holland. Then, here in Germany, it played next to Cabaret and Last Tango in Paris and it outplayed them! At first, I couldn't understand it. Looking back, it was the start of the sexual revolution and I was on the cusp of that. I'm naked for three quarters of the film. In Hollywood they called it pornography. I saw it 25 years later, in the Directors Guild [theater]. And the audience was still shocked. I come from Holland. We're not shocked.

You've done a lot of crazy roles — from replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner to the hobo with a shotgun in Hobo With a Shotgun. What was the most fun to play? 

The Hitcher because it's a dance with fear. The fun was to see how it landed. I was in Houston at a midnight screening. A 200-300 seat theater. And they were on their chairs. When the Hitcher shoots the helicopter, they screamed! It was great.

What role did you turn down that you wished you'd played? 

I was offered the lead in Das Boot. I thought it was a boy scout movie in a submarine, so I said no. They shot the film and then they did a series out of it, so they shot for 13 months. And that was the year Blade Runner was shot. So because I said no, I was still available. Mine was the last role cast. If I'd done Das Boot I would never have been in Blade Runner.

What was it like to play Samson's father in your new film, which just came out in the U.S.?

Well it was 40 degrees on a hill, with fake hair put all over my body. That's what it was like. But the story is great: We all know it but it's been told in a really adventurous, action way. It keeps moving. 

Is there anything left you still want to achieve in your career? 

I really want to direct. Actually that's what I originally wanted to be, a director, not an actor. I've had about 12 projects that all went south for some reason. I've got a script now.  It's called Rain Dogs. It's a killer story, a killer father looking for his daughter. And it ends with a smile. I think it's a good script. I just need a producer to take it on.

Check out the trailer to Samson below.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 19 daily issue at the Berlin Film Festival.