THE legend that is Rutger Hauer is talking to me on Skype. It was on his insistence that we chat face to face from his Denmark base and, while he’s played some pretty chilling characters in the likes of The Hitcher and Nighthawks, not to mention Blade Runner, he couldn’t be more charming.
‘I’m sorry I’m late,’ he apologises from the off. ‘I had to get a script to read on the plane to Romania and then my car had a nail in the tyre so I had to get that fixed.’
It’s with a similarly humble attitude that he’s approaching his new series, Porters, his first proper comedy. It’s set in a hospital and he, alongside relative newcomers Ed Easton and Susan Wokoma, plays a somewhat haphazard porter at St Etheldreda’s. Hauer believes challenging yourself is the key to such a long career. ‘I’m not afraid of trying things even if they don’t work,’ says the 73-year-old. ‘You learn from the bad experiences, not the good — they just reinforce that you’re an actor. Porters is honest comedy and nothing else, and I’ve never done that. I learned it’s a lot harder than I thought too. I knew it was difficult but the timing is so split-second.’
Hauer was attracted to the script because it had echoes of some classic British comedies.
‘It made me think of Fawlty Towers and great people like Miranda Richardson,’ he reveals. ‘They’re so ridiculous but they’re dead serious about it. British humour comes from all different sides. The wit, irony and the twinkle in the eye.’
The supporting cast includes Jo Joyner, Mat Horne and Kelsey Grammer, and he still gets excited about working with new people.
‘If it didn’t excite me, what the f*** am I doing?’ he says with that twinkle. ‘I watched Kelsey work and thought, yeah, OK, that’s the craft! I have a very gentle version of getting star-struck but most stars understand that’s not what we’re here for. Let’s say, if you work with Marlon Brando — OK, I was going to work with him, but he died so that was over — but you have to get over a big step if you’re working with someone like him. But I also see that when people work with me, because they think I’m that same sort of guy. I get them over that pretty quickly. The work just takes you, there’s no time for bulls***.’
You can’t chat to Hauer without mentioning a certain movie and it’s clear he has fond memories.
‘Blade Runner wasn’t a success for 25 years,’ he says. ‘When it came out [in 1982] people said it was such a depressing movie but the audience kept it alive. It’s my most unique film. How can you not be proud to be part of something like that? It was such a wonderful experience — I was just dancing inside Ridley Scott’s head. It was based on instinct, not logic, and those are the best parts for me. There were hundreds of things that made Blade Runner that weren’t in the plan.’
And what does he make of the imminent Blade Runner 2?
‘I have to watch it,’ he says. ‘I’m curious to see if it’s what I think it is. I feel that if you make a sequel, you make a similar one but not the same. It’s a real trap that your success needs to look the same. Blade Runner was a character-driven story and I don’t see that in the new trailer and the casting.
‘If they’re showing up with special effects, a lot of noise and shooting, it will never compare. That’s the truth. But it’s got a pretty good director so he needs the benefit of the doubt.’
■ Porters starts on Wednesday at 10pm on Dave, and is available for catch up on UKTV Play