Friday, January 27, 2017

John Hurt 1940-2017

British actor John Hurt has passed away at 77.

The son of a vicar and an amateur actress, John Vincent Hurt grew up in a strict upbringing where he was discouraged from acting and encouraged to be an artist. In 1960 he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and was later cast in small roles on television.

His first film was THE WILD AND THE WILLING in 1962, and his first major role would be in 1966 in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. In 1971 his role in 10 RILLINGTON PLACE would earn him his first BAFTA nomination. In 1978 his role in MIDNIGHT EXPRESS would earn him his first BAFTA and Golden Globe win and his first Academy Award nomination. He would later lend his voice to the animated classic WATERSHIP DOWN (1979).

He would earn a permanent spot in pop culture and in sci-fi circles for his role in Ridley Scott’s ALIEN (1979), where his role as the doomed crewman Kane, the first character to have an alien burst out of his chest…would create one of the most shocking and iconic scenes in cinematic history. In 1980 his role in THE ELEPHANT MAN would earn him another BAFTA and other nominations, and he would again lend his voice to an animated film; this time for Ralph Bakshi’s adaptation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1978), where he would voice Aragorn.

Other notable roles would include HEAVEN’S GATE (1980), HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I (1981), NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR (1984), THE BLACK CAULDRON (1985), and would reprise the role of Kane in the sci-fi parody SPACEBALLS (1987).

He would further cement his status in geek culture for his roles in the comic-book adaptations of HELLBOY (2004), and its 2008 sequel, and the adaptation of the graphic novel V FOR VENDETTA (2006). He would enter the world of HARRY POTTER by playing Mr. Ollivander, the man who sold wands, for three of the eight films, and would appear in TV’s DOCTOR WHO. He would appear in INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008), along with critically acclaimed films such as CONTACT (1997), PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER (2006), MELANCHOLIA (2011), TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (2011), ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013), SNOWPIERCER (2013), and JACKIE (2016).


Like most cinema fans, this Blogger was introduced to the talent of John Hurt in ALIEN, where the poor bloke who had an enthusiasm for exploration would meet a messy end courtesy of the first chest-bursting alien we would ever see. There was a unique balance to the way the man acted; he had a gravelly voice, but his delivery had the right amount of peaks and valleys which always sounded like music. It didn’t matter if he was playing a wizard, dictator, a doctor, or a spy…there was an incredible amount of class that he brought to every scene. John Hurt was one of a kind, and cinema will miss him.

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