Acclaimed British thespian John Hurt, known for his roles in Harry Potter, Alien, I, Cladius, The Elephant Man, and many others, lost his battle with cancer on January 25, 2017 at the age of 77.
Initially schooled to be a painter, he was accepted into the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts and began a career in theater in the 60s. His role as a Turkish inmate in the film Midnight Express netted him a Golden Globe for best supporting actor, taking his career to the next level. He took the role of Caligula in the miniseries I, Cladius in 1976 and in 1979 he played the role of Kane in Ridley Scott’s Alien, marking one of the most memorable scenes in film history as a vicious creature burst through his chest.
In 1980 he was cast in the title role of David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, winning the BAFTA award and nominations in both the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Hurt was also a recognizable voice in animated works, notably Watership Down, Ralph Bashki’s The Lord of the Rings where he voiced Aragorn, as well as The Black Cauldron. Hurt continued to work throughout the 80s and 90s in projects such as Jesus in Mel Brooks History of the World: Part 1, 1984, and Contact. He took the role of Garrick Olivander in several of the Harry Potter films, fascist dictator Adam Sutler in V for Vendetta, and made a brief appearance as The Doctor in Doctor Who.
In 2004 he was awarded the CBE for his contributions to acting. After many years of battling alcoholism he finally sobered up in 2005. Married four times, he leaves behind his wife Anwen Rees-Meyers and several children.
“We are all racing towards death. No matter how many great, intellectual conclusions we draw during our lives, we know they’re all only man-made, like God. I begin to wonder where it all leads. What can you do, except do what you can do as best you know how.”