Sir John Vincent Hurt, the legendary actor and star of such classic films as The Elephant Man, Alien, and Midnight Express, has died at the age of 77.
In a Radio Times interview from 2015, the last interview he gave, John Hurt spoke openly about his battle with pancreatic cancer and claimed he was not afraid of death.
“I can’t say I worry about mortality, but it’s impossible to get to my age and not have a little contemplation of it,” Hurt said. “We’re all just passing time, and occupy our chair very briefly. But my treatment is going terrifically well, so I’m optimistic.”
RIP John Hurt, the voice of a thousand legends, the face of so many favorites and The Doctor who said no. pic.twitter.com/z98Mpt94k1
— ScreenJunkies (@screenjunkies) January 28, 2017
John Hurt was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor in 1981 for his portrayal of John Merrick, a severely deformed man in late 19th century London, in David Lynch’s classic film, The Elephant Man.
R.I.P. John Hurt.
Here with David Lynch on the set of The Elephant Man. pic.twitter.com/KbzgPXlt08
— Twin Peaks ???? (@ThatsOurWaldo) January 28, 2017
Other classic John Hurt performances include his roles as Kane in Alien, Professor Broom in Hellboy, Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter movies, the War Doctor in Dr. Who, Max in Midnight Express, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, and countless other TV and movie roles dating back to the early 1960s. In 2013, John Hurt was given a BAFTA lifetime achievement award for his amazing contribution to cinema.
John Hurt also famously played the lead role of Winston Smith in the screen adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984.
"A lie becomes truth and then becomes a lie again."
John Hurt in George Orwell's 1984 pic.twitter.com/oHo6dWR5l7
— The Strombo Show (@TheStromboShow) January 28, 2017
According to his page on IMDb, John Hurt was born in the small coal mining village of Shirebrook, England, in 1940. His family later moved to Grimsby where Hurt studied acting at Grimsby Art School. Hurt late enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he often appeared in offbeat plays, such as Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger in 1962. It was in 1962 when he made his film debut in a film called Young and Willing, thereby launching the career of one of the great character actors of our era. It would be hard to be a person who watches TV or film without having seen Hurt in at least a dozen appearances, often stealing the scenes in which he appears.
John Hurt stayed busy until his death. IMDb lists four films to be released in 2017 in which he appears, including a World War II drama called Darkest Hour in which he was cast as Neville Chamberlain, England’s Prime Minister prior to Winston Churchill.
John Hurt was also a gifted voice actor, lending his voice to numerous animated films and radio plays.
"As Beckett said, it's not enough to die, one has to be forgotten as well." – John Hurt
RIP to a legend who will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/jNGIOOubyk
— The Cinegogue (@TheCinegogue) January 28, 2017
In a 2000 interview with The Guardian, John Hurt discussed what made him want to become an actor and what acting meant to him, saying that he first decided he wanted to act at the age of nine, even before he realized it was something he could possibly do for a career.
“Pretending to be other people is my game and that to me is the essence of the whole business of acting,” Hurt said. “Dame Edith Evans was once being interviewed by a very zealous young man down from Oxford on television and saying: ‘Tell me, Dame Edith, how do you go about it? What do you do? Do you research it? How do you get into them?’ and finally she just said: ‘I pretend, dear boy.’ It may be a rather simplistic way of putting it! I remember once when I told Lindsay Anderson at a party that acting was just a sophisticated way of playing cowboys and Indians he almost had a fit.”
John Hurt was a beloved actor and friend to many who had the pleasure of working with him. He will be missed dearly, but often remembered by his family, friends, and fans.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Short/AP Images]