Rutger the Menace

By | Mar 18, 2021 | No Comments

Rutger Hauer was the most menacing actor I have ever met.

Rutger Hauer
Rutger Hauer

In the mid to late 80s, I was living on the Upper West Side in New York, in a brownstone owned by Alexander Smalls, who was known more as an opera singer then than the chef he is today. I shared the basement floor with a Florentine fellow who worked alongside me at a restaurant called Baci, located conveniently down the block from where we were living.

One morning, Mariella Sindoni, one of the proprietors, had asked me to open the place and prepare it for lunch, as she couldn’t get there to do it herself. So I did. The sky was cloudy, and rain would soon fall on Manhattan’s streets. So, it probably would not be a busy day.

About an hour into my routine (cutting lemons, filling ice buckets, folding napkins, etc.), I noticed a tall man peering into the glass door to see if we were open since I hadn’t unlocked the door yet. He rapped on the glass and motioned for me to come to the door. As I drew nearer, I instantly recognized his unmistakable mug. It was the talented Dutch actor, Rutger Hauer, who had menaced C. Thomas Howell as a homicidal hitchhiker a couple of years before in the film The Hitcher.

That film, like Jaws, scared the bejesus out of me when I first saw it because I thought it was something much more likely to happen in reality than the slasher movies of the “Halloween” sort. Of course, his performance as a fugitive killer in Blade Runner was as terrifying. When I opened the door, he asked me if we would be opening soon, and I told him in about an hour. He then asked if he might have an espresso. I replied that I hadn’t yet switched on the machine and was still getting everything ready for lunch. He said he wouldn’t stay long because he had a nearby appointment soon. So, I said, “Sure.”

He cut quite a figure as soon as he entered the room. He was tall, ruggedly attractive, and possessed piercing cobalt blue eyes. He had hands like those of a construction worker, thick, with short fingers that could clamp down on you like a vise. He truly was a man’s man. He asked if I could make him a double espresso as I warmed up the machine. I replied again, “Sure.”

While I made his double perk, I felt this aura envelop me as if someone was staring, almost needling me from behind. As soon as I turned around, Hauer was staring menacingly in my direction without making any facial expressions. I tried to strike up a conversation to break up the eerie air and inquired about his activities in the area and whether he was working on a movie. Once more: nothing. He kept glaring at me with the cold, murderous eyes he depicted in movies. He seemed to be either fucking with me or in character for a role that he was testing. Either way, he was frightening me.

I excused myself to get out of this awkward situation, went into the bathroom, locked the door, and sat on the toilet for a while, wondering if this was how my life was going to end. Was an actor of all people going to kill me? I was truly terrified, and nobody was nearby to assist me if I needed it.

I spent a few minutes contemplating my future before going to the sink, splashing some water on my face, and taking a big, deep breath before opening the door. As I swung the door wide, there he was standing before me, and I let out a blood-curdling shriek.

I slammed the bathroom door shut. And from the other side, I heard Hauer say, “Can I pay for the coffee?”

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