We are devastated to announce that John Hurt is dead
Hollywood legend, Sir John Hurt, succumbed to his battle with cancer and died on Wednesday 25th January 2017. For the privacy of grief, the family chose to announce his death on the 27th.
Despite the diagnosis, the 77-year-old actor was determined to keep working. He recently appeared in Jackie, which received an Oscar nomination. He played a priest in this film about the life of President John F. Kennedy’s widow.
Hurt always had a stoic attitude about his mortality
When quoted in the “Radio Times” magazine in 2015 he stated:
“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. We’re all just passing time, and occupy our chair very briefly.”
The list of masterpieces that Hurt brought his acting genius to is very long. He is probably most famously remembered for his starring role in The Elephant Man. However, his career first took off in 1966 with A Man for All Seasons. He later powerfully portrayed Winston Smith in the film adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. And famously, he is affectionately remembered for his role as
He later powerfully portrayed Winston Smith in the film adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. And famously, he is affectionately remembered for his role as Mr. Ollivander the wandmaker in Harry Potter.
A passion for acting
Hurt developed his passion for acting at the age of 8. But he had traumatic memories of abuse from the Senior Master of the School he attended. His parents didn’t wish to encourage his acting aspirations.
Nevertheless, Grimsby art school accepted him at age 17. Afterward, he attended London’s famous Saint Martin’s School of Art. He then won a scholarship to RADA in 1960.
His first role was in the 1962 film The Wild and the Willing. But it was later that he won his first awards for Midnight Express in 1978, both a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. He was also nominated for an Oscar for the same film.
His talents were remarkable from the beginning
Working right up until the end, his final films released this year were My Name is Lenny and That Good Night. Ironically, Hurt plays a dying screenwriter in That Good Night.
In his younger years, Hurt had been notorious for his party lifestyle. Close friends with Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole, and Lucian Freud, he transformed into an alcoholic. After meeting his fourth wife Anwen Rees-Myers, over 20 years his junior, he went teetotal.
Married four times in total, some speculate that he never truly overcame his first love. Model Marie-Lise Volpeliere Pierrot lived with Hurt for about 15 years until her death. Thrown from a horse, she died of her head injuries. Hurt had always intended to marry her.
Celebrities have shown outpourings of their grief
Stephen Fry took to Twitter and said:
“Oh no. What terrible news. We’ve lost #JohnHurt as great on the stage, small screen and big. A great man & great friend of Norfolk & #NCFC”
Mel Brooks commented:
“No one could have played The Elephant Man more memorably. He carried that film into cinematic immortality. He will be sorely missed”.
In July 2015 the Queen awarded him a knighthood, which he was very proud to have received, albeit surprised
He claims that he did not encourage it at all. But it was an accolade well deserving of this theatrical and cinematic genius.
We also cannot forget to mention his charitable work, inspired by his role in The Elephant Man. As both the UK and US patron of the Proteus syndrome Foundation, he brought awareness to the disease.
In a similar charitable project, he also became the Patron of the UK-based Ethiopian charity Project Harar. This also brings awareness and raises money for children with facial disfigurements.
Without a doubt, Sir John will be sorely missed
He leaves behind his wife Anwen, and two sons, Sasha John Vincent Hurt, and Nick Hurt. His wife described him lovingly:
“The most sublime of actors and the most gentlemanly of gentlemen with the greatest of hearts and the most generosity of spirit. He touched all our lives with joy and magic and it will be a strange world without him”.
He died in their family home in Norfolk, with her by his side.