Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner

RIP Rutger Hauer, Who Gave Us the Most Perfect Villain Speech in Movie History

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
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Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, best known to genre fans as Blade Runner‘s replicant leader Roy Batty, has passed away at the age of 75. Hauer carved out a place in cinematic history with Batty, whose final scene should be required viewing for anyone who is a fan of science fiction. It should be required viewing, period. And it turns out its most iconic line was due to Hauer’s input.

As Variety notesBlade Runner was hardly the genre touchstone it would come to be viewed at upon its release; there was a slow build to Ridley Scott’s film taking its place in the cultural lexicon.

[Hauer’s] 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 favorite, and Batty proved to be Hauer’s most indelible role.

I’d argue that Hauer’s performance—his rendering of an uncompromising yet ultimately sympathetic villain—was iconic from the start, and Roy Batty’s influence has radiated out into our depiction of androids ever since.

If you remember anything about Blade Runner, you likely recall Batty’s final scene, and Hauer’s pitch-perfect delivery of a departing soliloquy that never, ever fails to move me. Not only was his acting vital, but his additions to the script helped make the speech into the unforgettable heart of Blade Runner.

Here’s the version that made it to film:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Time to die.

We have that gripping, exceptional line—”all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain”—thanks to Rutger Hauer.

According to the Wikipedia page on the speech—which is now commonly referred to as “the Tears in Rain monologue”—in the documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner, “Hauer, director Ridley Scott, and screenwriter David Peoples confirm that Hauer largely modified the ‘Tears in Rain’ speech. In his autobiography, Hauer said he merely cut the original scripted speech by several lines, adding only, ‘All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.'”

I’d say that this was a pretty big addition. Before Hauer’s rewrite, Wikipedia says that the original version of the speech went like this:

I’ve seen things… seen things you little people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion bright as magnesium… I rode on the back decks of a blinker and watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments… they’ll be gone.

Hauer described this as “opera talk” and “hi-tech speech” with no bearing on the rest of the film, so he “put a knife in it” the night before filming, without Scott’s knowledge. In an interview with Dan Jolin, Hauer said that these final lines showed that Batty wanted to “make his mark on existence … the replicant in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of.”

I just watched the scene again, and Hauer’s performance as Batty, especially as he says “tears in rain,” smiling as he sees distant sights, knowing that these are his last words, remains absolutely devastating. Watching it with the knowledge that we’ve lost Hauer made me cry, which feels like the most fitting tribute that I can offer.

Hauer would go on to star in other properties beloved by genre fans, like Ladyhawke, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sin City, True Blood, and Batman Begins, to name just a few. An ardent environmentalist, he also worked to raise awareness about AIDS for his organization the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association; proceeds from his 2007 autobiography, All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Blade Runnersgo to support the organization’s goals.

Rutger Hauer tears in rain monologue

Hauer was a heroic figure in real life who fantastically embodied one of our finest fictional antagonists. He will be missed.

But Roy Batty was wrong. All of us who feel touched by Rutger Hauer’s work ensure that the moments he gave us will never be lost.

(images: Warner Bros.)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.