The Hitcher has passed away at age 75. One of the great character actors, and best screen villains of his generation, has died following a short battle with illness.
Rutger the Hutger, as Robert and I have liked to refer to him, was a hugely charismatic genre stalwart, and was one of the best bad guys in Hollywood. Blessed with a stone jaw, piercing blue eyes and always superlative hair, he could radiate menace just standing still. And yet, you kinda wanted to be him. For all of his intimidating countenance, he could also be extremely charming. He made being evil and bad look cool, and effortless. Certainly, his most memorable moments no doubt were as Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Science Fiction being horror adjacent, we’ll claim that one too. For horror fans, his most iconic role was probably as the vicious John Ryder in brutal roadshow feature, The Hitcher.
That elegant and regal power about him made him an ideal candidate for playing a vampire, which he did impressively many times in performances in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), True Blood (2013-2014), Salem’s Lot (2004) and Dracula III: Legacy (2005). Somehow fangs and capes really suited him. The Dutch actor also had a great sense of humor, and he was the titular hobo in the grindhouse favorite Hobo With a Shotgun.
He was part of the Hollywood working class, with an astounding 175 titles under his belt, and he was continuing to crank out movies until this very day. Though he has passed away, he isn’t done yet. You can catch one of his last performances in the genre, with his turn in the upcoming feature The Sonata, which will be playing at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in August 8-16. (And for those of us not able to attend, keep your eyes open for the streaming release… the Scariest Things will have a review of this film soon.)
So a scariest salute out to one of the most recognizable genre performers of the past thirty years! A road well traveled, sir, even if you did have to mutilate a few people along the way.