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Actor William Hurt (1950-2022)


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The Academy Award winning actor William Hurt  has died at the age of 71.

The news of his death was posted Sunday by his son Will: “It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of William Hurt, beloved father and Oscar winning actor, on March 13, 2022, one week before his 72nd birthday. He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes. The family requests privacy at this time.”

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He was nominated for four Academy Awards and won once. His recognized roles and movies are as follows (Oscar win in bold): 

  • Luis Molina in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1985). Best Actor.
  • James Leeds in "Children of a Lesser God" (1986). Best Actor.
  • Tom Grunick in "Broadcast News" (1987). Best Actor.
  • Richie Cusack in "A History of Violence" (2005). Best Supporting Actor.

A veteran of many stage performances during his career, Hurt made his movie debut in Ken Russell's 1980 sci-fi tale "Altered States." He starred as Dr. Eddie Jessup, whose experiments with mind-expanding drugs threatened his life and his longtime marriage to his wife Emily (Blair Brown). The drama was based on the novel by Paddy Chayefsky, who adapted it for the screen under the pseudonym Sidney Aaron.

The dumb limbo mumbo jumbo of "Altered States" at 40 - The Spool

The 1981 thriller "Eyewitness" starred Hurt as a New York City janitor who became involved in political intrigue and acquainted with his favorite television news reporter (Sigourney Weaver). The picture, which also starred Christopher Plummer, James Woods, Irene Worth and Morgan Freeman, was produced and directed by Peter Yates ("Bullitt") and written by Steve Tesich ("Breaking Away").

Eyewitness Blu-ray (The Janitor) (United Kingdom)

Hurt and Kathleen Turner became an unforgettable screen team in "Body Heat," screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan's 1981  steamy and stylish debut as a director. The neo-noir effort-- set in a Florida town -- starred Turner as seductress Matty Walker, who persuaded attorney Ned Racine (Hurt) to help her get rid of her older husband (Richard Crenna). The drama also featured an early film role for Mickey Rourke.

Body Heat (1981)

Hurt was a member of the ensemble cast of "The Big Chill," Kasdan's 1983 Oscar-nominated tale about a group of 1960s college friends who found themselves holding an unscheduled reunion in South Carolina after one of their own committed suicide. The comedy-drama also starred Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, JoBeth Williams and Kevin Costner (whose major scenes were cut). Written and directed by Kasdan, the film  received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Close) and Best Original Screenplay (Kasdan and Barbara Benedek).

Also in 1983, Hurt starred in "Gorky Park," a film adaptation of the 1981 novel by Martin Cruz Smith. The actor played a Moscow police officer investigating a trio of gruesome murders at an ice rink. Directed by Michael Apted, the complicated mystery tale also was headlined by Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy, Ian Bannen and Joanna Pacula. The screenplay was adapted by the British dramatist Dennis Potter ("Pennies from Heaven," "The Singing Detective").

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Hurt's performance in Héctor Babenco's 1985 drama "Kiss of the Spider Woman" earned him an Oscar and the first of three consecutive Best Actor nominations. He also picked up the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Based on the 1976 novel by Argentina's Manuel Puig, the film starred Hurt as a gay window dresser who shared a cell with a Brazilian political prisoner (Raúl Julia).

 Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote: "What 'Kiss of the Spider Woman' at first seems to be about is the changing nature of the relationship between two very different men who have been locked together in the same cell. They are opposites in every way. But they share the same experiences, day after day, and that gives them a common bond. Gradually, an affection grows between them, and we assume that the movie will be about the ways in which they learn to accept each other. Only gradually, mysteriously, do we realize that the movie is about a good deal more."

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Hurt co-starred with newcomer Marlee Matlin in the 1986 drama "Children of a Lesser God, based on Mark Medoff's 1979 stage play about the relationship between a teacher and a deaf employee at a New England school for the deaf and hard of hearing. Directed by Randa Haines, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Hurt), Best Actress (Matlin), Best Supporting Actress (Piper Laurie) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Medoff and Hesper Anderson).  Matlin, who dated Hurt for a time, became the first deaf woman to win an Oscar. Her award was presented by Hurt.

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The 1987 hit film "Broadcast News," starred Holly Hunter as Jane Craig -- a brilliant producer for a network news program. She found herself caught between a handsome but dim anchor (Hurt) and a wannabe newsreader (Albert Brooks) who was uncomfortable on the air. The film was written, produced and directed by James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment"). It received eight Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hurt), Best Actress (Hunter), Best Supporting Actor (Brooks), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Michael Ballhaus) and Best Film Editing (Richard Marks). Hunter's character was modeled after Susan Zirinsky, the journalist and producer who became president and senior executive producer of CBS News.

Geena Davis and Hurt starred in the 1988 comedy "The Accidental Tourist," based on the 1985 novel by Anne Tyler. Hurt played a writer of travel guides whose wife (Turner) left him after the tragic death of their son.  The writer eventually became involved with a dog trainer (Davis), the mother of a young son. The screen adaptation of Tyler's book was directed, co-written and co-produced by  Kasdan, who collaborated with Hurt and Turner on "Body Heat."  For her performance, Davis won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.

Hurt received an Academy Award nomination for about 10 minutes of screen time in David Cronenberg's 2005 crime drama "A History of Violence." He played a gangster who had an unhappy reunion with his estranged brother  -- a heroic diner owner (played by Viggo Mortensen) who suddenly became a national figure. The film, based on the 1997 graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, also received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay (Josh Olson). 

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Beginning with "The Incredible Hulk" (2008), Hurt played the irascible U.S. Army General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross in several Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters. Ross was the American Secretary of State in the 2016 film "Captain America: Civil War."

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From  1971 to 1981, Hurt was married to the actress Mary Beth Hurt (née Supinger). She continues to use the last name professionally, although she has been wed to the writer-director Paul Schrader since 1983. Hurt had four children by other partners -- a son Alex (born 1983) from his relationship with Sandra Jennings; sons Samuel (born 1989) and William Jr. (born 1991) from his marriage to Heidi Henderson; and a daughter Jeanne (born 1994) from his relationship with the French actress, writer and director Sandrine Bonnaire.

Mary Beth Hurt and William Hurt

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R.I.P. William Hurt. So sad to hear this news. Working with him on Broadcast News was amazing. He will be greatly missed.
 
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Wow, this is quite a shock. I just saw him in that mermaid moviie with Pierce Brosnan as Louis XIV - the title of the film escapes me - I will be getting to it in my "I Just Saw" reviews one day, I hope. Hurt played a bishop. But I've read online that film was made like six  years ago and only got released this year. Unsure what he did recently. He played Thundeerbolt Ross a lot. I think I saw him in the trailer for Black Widow, which is another movie that was long-delayed. 

I've seen every film that has a video link in the OP except for A History of Violence, but I remember him getting a lot of praise for his small role in that film. I saw Altered States late at night on HBO after my parents had gone to bed when I was in sixth grade, and even at that age, I was like, "Woah, who IS this guy?" Then I began to seek out his movies. Body Heat was probably the second thing I ever saw him in. He was absolutely Hollywood royalty for most of the '80s, getting an Oscar nomination for pretty much everything he was in. I remember playing a guessing game with my college roommate when the Oscar noms came out, and he knew them already, an d I didn't. We got to Best Actor, and I said, "William Hurt for The Doctor...", and he said "No", and I said "Whaaa ...?" That was the end of the Academy's love affair with him, his one Supporting Actor nod many years later excluded. But I always was delighted whenever I saw him pop up in something. I lliked in him everything from Alice to The Host to A.I. to the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood to Syriana to Dark City to Lost in Space to The Village. Oh, he was Duke Leto in the 2000 TV mini-series version of Dune, the one that came after the David Lynch version and before the Denis Villenueve one. At least one of my friends says it's his favorite version.

I will miss him terribly. RIP.

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1 minute ago, sewhite2000 said:

Wow, this is quite a shock. I just saw him in that mermaid moviie with Pierce Brosnan as Louis XIV - the title of the film escapes me - I will be getting to it in my "I Just Saw" reviews one day, I hope. Hurt played a bishop. But I've read online that film was made like six  years ago and only got released this year. Unsure what he did recently. He played Thundeerbolt Ross a lot. I think I saw him in the trailer for Black Widow, which is another movie that was long-delayed. 

Apparently, the film you mentioned  -- "The King's Daughter" -- was his final film release.

Review: 'The King's Daughter' is truly a royal, watery mess

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Extremely Under the radar (Performance and) Film but Probably my Favourite Role of his is in the little known the Yellow Handkerchief.

Always Enjoyed. And Always Will Enjoy, His Fine Commanding Yet Nuanced and Compassionate Acting and Presence.

This Sucks. Thank You (Though) Jak'. Now; if You'll Excuse me, I have to go Check-In-On Everyone Else. 🎨

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When you watch BODY HEAT again watch the scenes with Hurt and Ted Danson. Wonderful acting. Watch the other guy when the other one is speaking. Great, great, great body language. I never feel like I'm watching actors; just their characters. 

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"The Accidental tourist," is my favorite with "Broadcast News, running second.  I'm pleased to know he and Albert Brooks enjoyed each other in that one, I sure enjoyed their rivalry in the film.  His life, and the women he chose as partners, indicate he was  intelligent and nicely complicated as well as talented.

 

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Heard this on the news last night and got bummed.  I enjoyed his work in anything I saw him in.

My introduction was ALTERED STATES('80).

Haven't seen everything he did, and yet have to see "Spider Woman".  But had(to me) an incredible knack of adding the genuine quality to any character he played.  Plus he did somewhat resemble my Great Grandfather, and my cousin Bob, who was one of his grandsons and everybody thought so too.  

That made Hurt cooler in my estimation.

Rest In Peace, Bill.  Heaven just got brighter.

Sepiatone

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19 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Wow, this is quite a shock. I just saw him in that mermaid moviie with Pierce Brosnan as Louis XIV - the title of the film escapes me - I will be getting to it in my "I Just Saw" reviews one day, I hope. Hurt played a bishop. But I've read online that film was made like six  years ago and only got released this year. Unsure what he did recently. He played Thundeerbolt Ross a lot. I think I saw him in the trailer for Black Widow, which is another movie that was long-delayed. 

I've seen every film that has a video link in the OP except for A History of Violence, but I remember him getting a lot of praise for his small role in that film. I saw Altered States late at night on HBO after my parents had gone to bed when I was in sixth grade, and even at that age, I was like, "Woah, who IS this guy?" Then I began to seek out his movies. Body Heat was probably the second thing I ever saw him in. He was absolutely Hollywood royalty for most of the '80s, getting an Oscar nomination for pretty much everything he was in. I remember playing a guessing game with my college roommate when the Oscar noms came out, and he knew them already, an d I didn't. We got to Best Actor, and I said, "William Hurt for The Doctor...", and he said "No", and I said "Whaaa ...?" That was the end of the Academy's love affair with him, his one Supporting Actor nod many years later excluded. But I always was delighted whenever I saw him pop up in something. I lliked in him everything from Alice to The Host to A.I. to the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood to Syriana to Dark City to Lost in Space to The Village. Oh, he was Duke Leto in the 2000 TV mini-series version of Dune, the one that came after the David Lynch version and before the Denis Villenueve one. At least one of my friends says it's his favorite version.

I will miss him terribly. RIP.

As for his missing out for The Doctor, I do think that his miss was a conjunction of two factors

A) Disney who released the film under the Touchstone banner were never good at running Oscar campaigns and they threw all their weight that year behind Beauty and the Beast instead (one of their few successful runs) Touchstone was likely also campaigning for Billy Bathgate, which also got shut out.

B) Even though it was an excellent film, it was lumped with two other films, The Fisher King and Regarding Henry, as an unofficial yuppie remorse trilogy. Henry was not liked by critics, and while the other two were both hits, Fisher King was more cinematic feeling and it stole the thunder.

That said, Hurt did a great job in the film, as did Elizabeth Perkins, and I wish they had both gotten in instead of the duo from Cape Fear, which I hated.

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7 hours ago, MrMagoo said:

When they show Voight in the audience is that a very young Angelina Jolie sitting next to him?

 

5 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

It is.

Well, we all go through our gawky period at one time or another ya know, Magoo. ;)

(...and now re my take on William Hurt...a wonderful actor who I'd say my favorite performance of his being in the film Broadcast News...may he rest in peace)

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5 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

As for his missing out for The Doctor, I do think that his miss was a conjunction of two factors

A) Disney who released the film under the Touchstone banner were never good at running Oscar campaigns and they threw all their weight that year behind Beauty and the Beast instead (one of their few successful runs) Touchstone was likely also campaigning for Billy Bathgate, which also got shut out.

B) Even though it was an excellent film, it was lumped with two other films, The Fisher King and Regarding Henry, as an unofficial yuppie remorse trilogy. Henry was not liked by critics, and while the other two were both hits, Fisher King was more cinematic feeling and it stole the thunder.

That said, Hurt did a great job in the film, as did Elizabeth Perkins, and I wish they had both gotten in instead of the duo from Cape Fear, which I hated.

Just watched The Doctor recently and it is a remarkable film.  Great cast, including Hurt, Elizabeth Perkins, Christine Lahti and Adam Arkin (who I pretty much love in anything.) William Hurt and Elizabeth Perkins were totally robbed . . .both should have been nominated, for sure.

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