Tuesday, 31 January 2017

In Memory of John Hurt (1940-2017)

John Hurt (1940-2017)

Friends and fellow movie-buffs, it is with deep sorrow that I bring you the news that English actor Sir John Hurt has died of pancreatic cancer on 25th January 2017 at the age of 77. He was a widely known actor who was notable for his smooth distinctive voice and his film roles in 'Alien', 'The Elephant Man', 'V for Vendetta' and series like 'Hellboy' and 'Harry Potter'. His profession as an actor spanned more than five decades starting in 1962 with his first movie 'The Wild and the Willing'. Four years later, Hurt was cast in his first major role in a big screen adaptation of 'A Man for All Seasons', and in 1971 he was cast as a neighbour accused of murder in '10 Rillington Place' starring opposite Richard Attenborough. He would eventually receive a BAFTA award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie. Whilst continuing with his film career Hunt also starred in Television dramas in selective roles, such as portraying Quentin Crisp in a television play of 'The Naked Civil Servant' which made him a prominent actor and won his first British Academy Television Award. The following year, Hurt was cast in another acclaimed performance in a BBC adaptation of 
'I, Claudius' as Roman Emporer Caligula. 

John Hurt was not yet recognised as the best character actor in cinema until 1978 where he appeared in 'Midnight Express' which earned him a Golden Globe and a BAFTA as well as an Academy Award nomination. During that same time, Hurt would then do voice-overs in two animated films as Aragon in Ralph Bakshi's interpretation of 'The Lord of the Rings' and as Hazel in 'Watership Down'. Word of his talent and fame would spread to Director Ridley Scott who will cast him in the role of the first victim of an extraterrestrial threat in a movie that proved to be terrifying space horror - that no one can hear anyone scream. The feature was entitled 'Alien' and it featured the character's death which was placed as the iconic scene of film history and he would later reprise his role in a 1987 sci-fi parody 'Spaceballs'. After 'Alien', Hurt then starred in what would be a hit and heart-wrenching biography from up and coming Director David Lynch about a hideously deformed figure who was the title character of the movie known as 'The Elephant Man'

Other roles that Hurt portrayed in movies and television include Winston Smith in 'Nineteen Eighty Four', the demonic horned King in 'The Black Cauldron', "Bird" O'Donnell in 'The Field' (again nominated for a BAFTA award), the wandmaker Olivander in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' (which he then reprised his role in 'Deathly Hallows: Part 1' and 'Part 2'.), Professor Broom in 'Hellboy' (while also reprised in 'The Golden Army',), a leader of a dictatorship in 'V for Vendetta', Harold Oxley in 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' and the War Doctor in 'Doctor Who'. In 2004, Hurt was honoured when made a commander of the Order of the British Empire and was honoured in 2012 with a BAFTA award for his outstanding contribution to the cinema. In 2015, he was then knighted for his services by Queen Elizabeth II as Sir John Hurt.

Before his death, Hurt recently played a priest in 'Jackie' and two of his final movies were 'That Good Night' and 'Darkest Hour' due to be released soon. My condolences go to his family and may you rest in peace John Hurt.

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