John Hurt


This article is about the English actor. For the American musician, see Mississippi John Hurt.

Sir John Vincent Hurt, CBE (22 January 1940 - 25 January 2017) was an English actor whose screen and stage career spanned six decades. Hurt was regarded as one of Britain's finest thespians; director David Lynch described him as "simply the greatest actor in the world".

Hurt initially came to prominence for his role as Richard Rich in the film A Man for All Seasons (1966), and gained BAFTA Award nominations for his portrayals of Timothy Evans in 10 Rillington Place (1971) and Quentin Crisp in television film The Naked Civil Servant (1975) - winning his first BAFTA for the latter. He was also visible as Caligula in BBC TV series I, Claudius (1976). Hurt's performance in prison drama Midnight Express (1978) brought him international renown, and earned Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards, along with an Academy Award nomination. His BAFTA-nominated portrayal of astronaut Kane, in science-fiction horror Alien (1979), yielded a scene which has been named by a number of publications as one of the most memorable in cinematic history.

Hurt earned his third competitive BAFTA, along with his second Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, as Joseph Merrick in David Lynch's biopic The Elephant Man (1980). Other significant roles during the 1980s include Bob Champion in biopic Champions (1984), Mr. Braddock in the Stephen Frears drama The Hit (1984), Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), and Stephen Ward in the drama depicting the Profumo affair, Scandal (1989). Hurt was again BAFTA-nominated for his work in Irish drama The Field (1990), and played the primary villain, James Graham, in the epic adventure Rob Roy (1995). His later films include the Harry Potter film series (2001-11), the Hellboy films (2004 and 2008), supernatural thriller The Skeleton Key (2005), western The Proposition (2005), political thriller V for Vendetta (2006), sci-fi adventure Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Cold War espionage film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), and Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie (2016). Hurt reprised his role as Quentin Crisp in TV film An Englishman in New York (2009), which brought his seventh BAFTA nomination, and also portrayed the War Doctor in BBC TV series Doctor Who in 2013. His last performance will be in Darkest Hour (2017), as former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Recognised for his distinctive rich voice, Hurt also enjoyed a successful voice acting career in films such as Watership Down (1978), the animated The Lord of the Rings (1978), The Plague Dogs (1982), The Black Cauldron (1985) and Dogville (2003), as well as the BBC TV series Merlin (2008-2012). In 2012, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement BAFTA Award, in recognition of his "outstanding contribution to cinema". He was knighted in 2015 for his services to drama.

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