Rutger Hauer "All Those Moments"
The Day My Whole Life Changed
Which comes first, the belief or the success? I don't know. But you have to believe it's all going to work out. It's weird to say, but I've hardly ever been confident, and at the same time I've never really had a hard time making decisions. So somehow I must have felt confident enough.
In early 2004, I had a problem.
I was in Los Angeles, and I had a job lined up that was keeping me in town—a small-budget movie that I thought was kind of interesting. It had something to do with a virus and the Internet and the fate of mankind. It seemed like it was all set, but then one of the financial backers suddenly disappeared. The producers called my agent, saying, "Well, we're not going to do the movie." This happened on a Thursday.
Now, disappointment is a way of life when you're in the movies. Sometimes you don't get the part you want, and sometimes a film you're in just dies. I've been in situations where I'm talking to my manager or agent, and I'll say, "What about that film we worked so hard on two years ago? When are we going to see that?" And it turns out the film died on the vine. A backer pulled out and the film is not going to be released. The film is made, it's sitting on a shelf somewhere, and that's where it will continue to sit until the end of time. You have to be somewhat stoic about these things if you want to keep your sanity.
All the same, the early death of the virus movie came as a blow—I had been counting on it. The lease on my house in Santa Monica was up, and I had to decide if I was going to rent a house for another year. On the one hand, I couldn't be sure I'd get enough work during the year to justify it. On the other hand, although my primary home is in Holland, I need to have a base in the United States because I have a green card that I don't really feel like giving up.
"Oh, jeez," I said to myself. "What am I gonna do now?" It was a conundrum that could keep Einstein awake in his bed at night.
On Friday morning, I got another call from my agent.
"We have something really interesting."
"Let me guess," I said. "They're going to do this virus thing after all?"
"No. That would be good, but no. I think it's even better than that."
"Okay. I'm all ears."
"A young English director named Christopher Nolan is making a Batman movie in London. It's going to be sort of a more British version than the earlier ones, and he's interested in you for a part. Are you willing to travel, and if you are, will you travel quickly?"
"Let me read the script and I'll let you know."
My agent hesitated. "Okay, but you have to let me know by tonight."
They sent a courier over with the script for Batman Begins early that afternoon. It was a totally different Batman, and had nothing to do with the earlier movies. In fact, it was a new beginning to the story. The character they were considering me for was Richard Earle, the CEO of Wayne Industries, who has made the company profitable by investing in arms deals and other sinister, under-the-table activities. It was a minor role, but I could see where I might have fun with it. In the story, he's the big boss, and the people who work for him snake around because they're a little afraid of him. He has that authority thing going on, and people want to get him, but they don't want to confront him directly. I thought the script, and the character, were really good.
The sun was just setting—the last light going out of the sky—as I called my agent back that evening.
"I like the script. So what's the deal?"
"Well," he said, "the deal is that they fly you to London very soon. And if they like you, you're working very soon. If they don't like you, you pay to fly yourself back to L.A., or to Amsterdam, or wherever you like, and you're not working."
Los Angeles to London is ten or eleven hours in the air. At least two and a half hours in the airport waiting to leave. Probably another two hours for a layover somewhere. Eight or nine hours lost to time-zone changes. A long journey by anyone's estimate—I could use a few days to prepare.
"When do they want me to fly?" I said.
There was a pause on the line as I digested this latest information.
"Yes, yes. Fine. Tomorrow is fine."
I packed my bags in about twelve minutes—when you travel as much as I do, a lot of this stuff is just waiting to go, and the two bags I tend to travel with are solid and loyal companions. One is a Japanese designer's concoction, which is tougher than it looks and has already weathered the storms of several years. Nothing too fancy there—it holds clothes.
The other "bag" is a German trunk made out of aluminum. It is sooo strong. Not that it would do me much good, but it could survive anything—a plane crash, a nuclear war, you name it. It holds vitamins, a small weight for a specific exercise I need to do with one leg, and an ice-pack thing I need to use on the other leg when it has a busy day—the legacy of countless stumbles and falls during a career in action movies.
Scripts I should have read already are also in the trunk, along with cameras of various kinds. The DVD with a short film on it called The Room that I codirected, and which I enjoy showing people. It's in there. It also holds some books, some sweats, and some coins from the countries I visited last year rattling around at the bottom. Finally, there is the sophisticated Boy Scout knife for grown men—you'd be surprised at some of what I've been able to accomplish with that thing.
The foregoing is excerpted from All Those Moments by Rutger Hauer, and Patrick Quinlan.