- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The two-time Oscar nominee’s six-decade career included roles in the BBC’s Doctor Who; Midnight Express, for which he earned an Oscar nomination; three Harry Potter films; Ridley Scott’s Alien; and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, for which Hurt earned his second Oscar nom.
On screens big and small, Hurt died what seemed a thousand deaths. “I think I’ve got the record,” he once said. “It got to a point where my children wouldn’t ask me if I died, but rather, ‘How do you die?’ ”
One of his most memorable moments came when he played Kane, the first victim in Alien, in which Hurt collapses over a table and a snakelike alien bursts out of his chest. (How’d they do that? There was an artificial chest screwed to the table, and Hurt was underneath.)
Hurt was also an accomplished stage actor who performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. In 1994, he starred opposite Helen Mirren in Bill Bryden’s West End production of A Month in the Country, and he scraped out an edgy and vigorously dour performance in Samuel Beckett’s autobiographical one-man drama Krapp’s Last Tape in 1999.
When asked about the difference between film and stage acting, Hurt explained: “It’s rather like two different sports. You use two completely different sets of muscles.”
Support from Hurt’s fans came pouring in on social media following the news of his death, with longtime fans and fellow celebs offering their condolences.
Oscar winner Helen Mirren, who co-starred with Hurt in Brighton Rock, told THR in a statement, “John Hurt, kind, non-judgmental, fragile, like an alpine flower that trembles in the freezing wind, but tenaciously holds on and survives. He wore his humanity on his sleeve, and this was one of the qualities that made him into the great actor he was. He also had a core of great strength and humor that made him able to face the world and achieve so much. We will miss you, dear colleague.”
Natalie Portman also mourned her Jackie co-star in a statement: “I’m so extremely sad to hear of John’s passing. I was lucky enough to make two films with him — both of which were taken to the next level because of his performances. He was the most talented actor, and also a deeply good and funny and poetic and smart and warm human being. I send my love to his family at this terrible time, and join his fans in watching his films that we are lucky enough to have forever.”
See more reactions to his passing on social media below.
It was terribly sad today to learn of John Hurt’s passing. He was a truly magnificent talent.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) January 28, 2017
No one could have played The Elephant Man more memorably. He carried that film into cinematic immortality. He will be sorely missed.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) January 28, 2017
So very sad to hear that the immensely talented and deeply beloved John Hurt has died. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 28, 2017
My deepest sympathies to John Hurt’s family, friends and fans. He was a dear friend.
— Kiefer Sutherland (@RealKiefer) January 28, 2017
Very sad to hear of John Hurt’s passing. It was such an honor to have watched you work, sir.
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) January 28, 2017
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) January 28, 2017
So sorry to hear of Sir John Hurt’s passing. A gloriously talented actor, one of the best, of this or any era. Rest in peace, sir.
— Alfred Molina (@OfficialMolina) January 28, 2017
John Hurt was one of the most powerful, giving, and effortlessly real actors I’ve ever worked with. Remarkable human being. U will be missed
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) January 28, 2017
Sad re John Hurt. I was in a film with him and he was so mesmerising I kept forgetting to act and just watched him. A genius & a lovely man.
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) January 28, 2017
Oh no. RIP John Hurt. He made everything he was in better. I was looking forward to seeing many more performances.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) January 28, 2017
We’re hugely saddened to hear about the passing of John Hurt. Thoughts are with his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/O1moIDitvS
— Pottermore (@pottermore) January 28, 2017
God speed to John Hurt, a legendary actor and good human being.
— Sharon Stone (@sharonstone) January 28, 2017
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) January 28, 2017
RIP my dear friend John Hurt. You were an awesome talent, an amazing co-star, and a better friend…you will be missed by all who knew you
— Jason Priestley (@Jason_Priestley) January 28, 2017
#JohnHurt WAS the craft at its finest. It was an honor and a great joy to work with him on Snowpiercer. To wile the time away on set, @lucapasqualino #jamieBell #TildaSwinton and I would play a crazy card game called shithead. Though John and #ChrisEvans would never play we’d all convene at our table in base camp and listen to John recount tales of his varied sets. He was such an interesting man! Miss you, John.
A photo posted by Octavia Spencer (@therealoctaviaspencer) on
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) January 28, 2017
A photo posted by Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) on
John Hurt was always on my actors-I-wish-I-could-be-more-like list. And he will continue to always be. Wonderful work & a phenomenal career
— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) January 28, 2017
So so sad to hear the news about #JohnHurt
An absurdly gifted, brilliant actor and a very funny beautiful man
RIP John x
— Stephen Moyer (@smoyer) January 28, 2017
I will forever cherish the memories I have of the incomparable John Hurt. A brilliant actor & a beautiful soul.
— Jamie Bell (@1jamiebell) January 28, 2017
Dance until your feet hurt. laugh until your face hurts.
Act until your John Hurt. #RIPJohnHurt
— Dominic Monaghan. (@DomsWildThings) January 28, 2017
John Hurt. Midnight Express. Nothing better. Ever.
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) January 28, 2017
RIP John Hurt “Archibald u speak! One must never underestimate the healing power of hatred!” Montrose in Rob Roy
— Axl Rose (@axlrose) January 28, 2017
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day