John Hurt, the wiry English actor who played a drug addict in “Midnight Express,” Kane in “Alien,” the title character in “The Elephant Man,” and Winston Smith in “1984” has died, his publicist confirmed toVariety. He was 77.
Hurt had disclosed in 2015 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Mel Brooks, executive producer of “The Elephant Man,” tweeted that he was a “truly magnificent talent.”
He played Mr. Ollivander, the wand-maker in the first Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone,” and for parts 1 and 2 of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” however his scenes in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” were cut.
Hurt was twice nominated for Oscars, the first time in 1979 for his supporting role in “Midnight Express,” the second time in 1981 for “The Elephant Man.” In 2012 he received a BAFTA Award for outstanding British contribution to cinema.
The actor had the pale, haunted look of a man who is perpetually sleep deprived, but he used his craggy features to his advantage. Reviewing the 2011 feature adaptation of John le Carre’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” in which Hurt played Control, the head of MI6, the New York Times revealed admiration for the actor’s visage: Control “explains his theory about the mole, the folds in Mr. Hurt’s magnificent face sagging a bit lower. That face, a crevassed landscape that suggests sorrow and history, has the granitic grandeur of W.H. Auden in his later life. In tandem with Mr. Hurt’s sonorously melancholic voice (and its useful undertones of hysteria), it is a face that, when used by a filmmaker like Mr. Alfredson, speaks volumes about a character who would otherwise take reams of written dialogue to discover.”
But, of course, there was more to Hurt than his memorable appearance; Michael Caton-Jones, who directed the actor in several films, described him to the U.K.’s the Guardian in 2006 in this way: “One of the greatest screen actors ever, and one of the bravest — because he’s all about honest emotion. People think actors have to pretend or lie. The best actors, like John, know they have to search for the truth.”Read More...
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