Guinness was good for Rutger Hauer. It turned him into a multi-millionaire. For seven years he was the eccentric man-in-black, the mysterious Dr Who type figure,a big, bulging blonde, who through the popular television commercials boosted sales of the stout by 37 million pints a year. That's a lot of wallop.
Of course, Hauer would rather have been playing Hamlet.
But this is a most pragmatic man, an actor who has had 'the wheels turning' for a quarter of a century, a very large and restless chunk who has big hands and, when he wants, a smile to match. He turned 51 in January but says he is still playing make-believe.' Reality is something I can hardly cope with. That's why acting is so great. I can be a little clown and not have too much responsibility.'
He was dubbed 'the Paul Newman of Holland' when he first came to Hollywood but ,if you pause for a moment, as the country's only international actor he was also tulip land's Warren Beatty,Jack Nicholson,Robert Redford, Marlon Brando and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Until Hauer appeared his country's best known exports were bulbs and beer. Oh, and Sylvia Kristel who made a career out of the 'Emmanuelle' films. Hauer has been more into violence than sex -- a lethal white-haired replicant in Ridley Scott's classic 'Blade Runner', the goose-pimple killer in 'The Hitcher' and assorted Nazis and terrorists.
Now, he says:' I am a millionaire and I don't need to work. I only want to do interesting things. Hollywood does not really exist anyway.It is a bunch of producers and distribution people who decided together with some agents what material is going to go. If you happen to be in it then your face is nailed to one character all over the world and they cannot see you in any other way. Perhaps because I was European I was allowed to do many different things.
'The frustrations are there but basically I create my own conflicts most of the time and I have to fight myself. I'm glad though that I'm not known for just one film but a whole body of work.'
He has extended his CV this year (1995) playing a mad monk in First Independent Film's 'Nostradamus' and a Nazi detective in American cable company HBO's 'Fatherland'. They were both projects he wanted rather than was 'persuaded' to do. In the TV mini-series adapted from Robert Harris' best-selling book -- what if Germany had won World War 2? -- he is, for a change, a hero.
Hitler is 75, JFK's father Joseph Kennedy is the American President and ' Germania ' is about to open diplomatic relations with the U.S. It is 1964 and Hauer's SS detective teamed with Miranda Richardson as an American journalist are caught in a tangle trying to expose the Final Solution -- the systematic attempt at extermination of the Jews. 'It's another take on Germans and Germany . Don't ask if you're being logical about it -- there are some holes but it's thought-provoking.