Beloved British actor, John Hurt passed away at his home in Norfolk, England on January 25th, 2017 from pancreatic cancer. He was 77 years old.
SIR John Hurt
John Hurt was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on January 22nd, 1940. His screen acting career began in earnest with the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons where he portrayed Richard Rich. Hurt appeared in the film Midnight Express in 1978. Additionally, the performance won a Golden Globe and earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards. Also in 1978, he began a storied voice acting career, lending his iconic voice to Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and Hazel, the protagonist of Watership Down. Of course, the cherry on top of his 1970’s acting career is the role of Kane, the first victim of a chest burster in Alien.
To a great swath of his fans, he cemented his status as a screen icon with his supporting roles through the 2000’s. He appeared as the wand salesman, Ollivander in several of the Harry Potter films. In 2006, he portrayed the tyrannical Adam Sutler in V for Vendetta. And, yes, he even appeared in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. However, 2013 featured what is likely his most iconic role of all. In 2013, Hurt played The War Doctor, a “forgotten” incarnation of Doctor Who. His arc began with the series 7 finale of Doctor Who and came to a close with the 50th-anniversary special titled The Day of the Doctor. He received a knighthood in 2015 for his contribution to drama. Despite his death, he still has four projects slated for release in 2017.
John Hurt’s Legacy
Alright, folks, this is a tough one. Character actors are the unsung heroes of the acting world because they are often referred to as “that guy!” But the advantage of being “that guy” is the ability to appear in countless franchises beloved by millions without distracting the audience. Sir John Hurt was a master character actor. His classical Shakespearean training allowed him to elevate anything he was in. If it was terrible, at least the parts with John Hurt were good. But if it was great? Well, John Hurt was just icing on the cake.
Hurt’s contributions to our beloved franchises will not be forgotten. I have written before about how our icons are all reaching a certain age, but dealing with their loss is never easy. So fire up your favorite John Hurt performance. Better yet, show it to someone who has never seen it. Allow his legacy to continually affect people. That’s the bittersweet nature of losing an artist. Their art lives on.
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