Sir John Hurt CBE

English actor and voice actor Sir John Vincent Hurt, CBE sadly died 25 January 2017. He was born 22 January 1940 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. In 1937, his family moved and his Father became Perpetual Curate of Holy Trinity Church. When Hurt was five, his father became the vicar of St Stephen’s Church in Woodville, south Derbyshire, until 1952. When he was eight, Hurt was sent to the Anglican St Michael’s Preparatory School in Otford, Kent, where he developed his passion for acting and decided he wanted to become an actor. His first role was that of a girl in a school production of The Bluebird (L’Oiseau Bleu) by Maurice Maeterlinck. In 1952 Hurt’s father moved to Old Clee Church in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, and Hurt became a boarder at Lincoln School in Lincoln. He often went with his mother to Cleethorpes Repertory Theatre, but his parents disliked his acting ambitions and encouraged him to become an art teacher instead. His headmaster, Mr Franklin, also derided his ambitions. Aged 17, Hurt enrolled in Grimsby Art School (now the East Coast School of Art & Design), where he studied art. In 1959, he won a scholarship allowing him to study for an Art Teacher’s Diploma (ATD) at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London and In 1960, he won a scholarship to RADA, where he trained for two years.

Hurt’s first film was The Wild and the Willing, but his first major role was as Richard Rich in A Man for All Seasons. He also played Timothy Evans, who was hanged for murders committed by his landlord John Christie, in 10 Rillington Place earning him his first BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His portrayal of Quentin Crisp in the TV play The Naked Civil Servant earned him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. Hurt also portrayed Roman emperor Caligula in the BBC drama serial, I, Claudius. In 1978 Hurt appeared in Midnight Express and won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor He also voiced Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi’s animated film adaptation of Lord of the Rings. Hurt then voiced Hazel, the heroic rabbit leader of his warren in the film adaptation of Watership Down and later voiced the villainous, General Woundwort, in the animated television adaptation. In 1980 he portrayed John Merrick in The Elephant Man for which he won another BAFTA and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actor. In 1979 he memorably portrayed Kane in the film Alien.

He also portrayed art school radical Scrawdyke in Little Malcolm and had a starring role in Sam Peckinpah’s film The Osterman Weekend. He also starred opposite Laurence Olivier’s King in King Lear and appeared as Raskolnikov in a BBC television adaptation of Crime and Punishment. Hurt also portrayed Winston Smith in the film adaptation of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and starred in Disney’s The Black Cauldron voicing the Horned King. Hurt provided the voiceover for the AIDS: Iceberg / Tombstone, public information film warning of the dangers of AIDS and also portrayed the on-screen narrator, in Jim Henson’s television series The StoryTeller. Hurt had a supporting role as “Bird” O’Donnell in Jim Sheridan’s film The Field , getting another BAFTA nomination and In 1997 He portrayed reclusive tycoon S.R. Hadden in the film Contact. Hurt also provided narration on the Art of Noise’s concept album The Seduction of Claude Debussy and narrated a four-part TV series The Universe (1999).

In 2001 Hurt portrayed Olivander, the Wand Maker In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and returned for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2. he also played the role of Adam Sutler, leader of the Norsefire fascist dictatorship in the film V for Vendetta and appeared as Harold Oxley in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He voiced the Great Dragon Kilgharrah, in the TV series Merlin, who aids the young warlock Merlin as he protects the future king Arthur. In 2009, Hurt reprised the role of Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York and also returned to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, playing the on-screen Big Brother for a stage adaptation. Hurt won the award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema At the 65th British Academy Film Awards. In 2013, Hurt appeared in Doctor Who as a ‘forgotten’ incarnation of the Doctor, known as the War Doctor. In 2015, Hurt provided the voice of the main antagonist Sailor John in the Thomas & Friends film Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure along with Eddie Redmayne and Jamie Campbell Bower. He has also starred in two forthcoming movies That Good Night, in which he plays a terminally ill writer, and Darkest Hour, portraying Neville Chamberlain, which is due for release November 2017.

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