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John Vincent Hurt, CBE (born 22 January 1940) is an English actor, known for his leading roles as John Merrick in The Elephant Man, Timothy Evans in 10 Rillington Place; Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Mr. Braddock in The Hit, Stephen Ward in Scandal and Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant and An Englishman in New York. Recognizable for his distinctive rich voice,[1] he has also enjoyed a successful voice acting career, starring in films such as Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings and Dogville, as well as BBC television series Merlin.

Hurt initially came to prominence for his role as Richard Rich in the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, and has since appeared in such popular motion pictures as: Alien, Midnight Express, Rob Roy, V for Vendetta, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Harry Potter film series and the Hellboy film series. Hurt is one of England's best-known, most prolific and sought-after actors, and has had a versatile film career spanning six decades.[2] He is also known for his many Shakespearean roles.[3] Hurt has received multiple awards and honours throughout his career including three BAFTA Awards and a Golden Globe Award, with six and two nominations respectively, as well as two Academy Award nominations.[4] His character's final scene in Alien is consistently named as one of the most memorable in cinematic history.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Early life Edit

John Hurt was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, when his father was vicar of Shirebrook.[12] He is the son of Phyllis (née Massey), an amateur actress and engineer, and Arnold Herbert Hurt, a mathematician who became an Anglican clergyman.[3] Hurt has an older brother, Br. Anselm (born Michael), a monk based at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland whose books Hurt has contributed to.[13] He also has an adopted sister, Monica. His father was a vicar at St John in Sunderland, but in 1937 he moved his family to Derbyshire, where he became Perpetual Curate of Holy Trinity church. When John was five, his father became the vicar of St Stephens Church at Woodville in South Derbyshire and remained there until 1952. In 1945 the Reverend Mr. Hurt founded 1st Woodville (St Stephens) Scout Group which is still going strong today.[citation needed]

Hurt had a strict upbringing: the family lived opposite a cinema but he was not allowed to visit. He was also not permitted to mix with local children because in his parents' view they were "too common".[14]


At the age of eight he was sent to the Anglo-Catholic St Michael's Preparatory School in Otford, Kent, where he eventually developed his passion for acting. He decided he wanted to become an actor, and his first role was that of a girl in a school production The Bluebird (L'Oiseau Bleu) by Maurice Maeterlinck. While he was a pupil at the school he was abused by Donald Cormack, then Senior Master of the school and later Head Teacher (until his retirement in 1981).[15] Hurt described how Cormack would remove his two false front teeth and put his tongue in the boys' mouths, and how he would rub their faces with his stubble. Hurt said that the experience affected him "hugely".[16]

His father moved to St Aidan Church in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, and Hurt (then aged 12) became a boarder at Christ's Hospital School (then a grammar school) in Lincoln, because he had failed the entrance exam for admission to his brother's school. Hurt often accompanied 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, laughed when Hurt told him he wanted to be an actor, saying "you wouldn't stand a chance in the profession."[14] At the age of 17, Hurt enrolled in Grimsby Art School (now the East Coast School of Art & Design), where he studied art.

In 1959 Hurt won a scholarship allowing him to study for an Art Teachers Diploma (ATD) at Central St. Martins College in Holborn, London. Despite the scholarship, paying for his studies was financially difficult and so he persuaded some of his friends to pose nude and sold the portraits. In 1960 he won a scholarship to RADA where he trained for two years. He was then cast in small roles on TV.

Career Edit

Hurt's first film was The Wild and the Willing (1962), but his first major role was as Richard Rich in A Man for All Seasons (1966). His portrayal of Quentin Crisp in the 1975 TV play, The Naked Civil Servant gave prominence and earned him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. The following year, Hurt played the Roman emperor Caligula in the BBC drama serial, I, Claudius. In 1978, he appeared in Midnight Express, for which he won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (the latter of which he lost to Christopher Walken for his performance in The Deer Hunter). Hurt played Hazel, the heroic rabbit leader of his warren in the film adaptation of Watership Down and later played the major villain, General Woundwort, in the animated television series version.

His roles at the beginning of the 1980s included Kane, the memorable first victim of the title creature in the film Alien (a role which he reprised as a parody in Spaceballs); would-be art school radical Scrawdyke in Little Malcolm; and "John" Merrick in the Joseph Merrick biography The Elephant Man, for which he won a BAFTA and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actor. He also had a starring role in Sam Peckinpah's critically panned but moderately successful final film, The Osterman Weekend (1983). Also in 1983 he starred as the Fool opposite Sir Laurence Olivier's King in King Lear. Hurt also appeared as Raskolnikov in the BBC series Crime and Punishment in 1980.

File:Cynthia Nixon John Hurt Swoosie Kurtz 2009 Tribeca.jpg

Hurt has taken roles in famous political allegories, first playing the hero in an early production and then the tyrannical villain in a later work. For instance, he played Winston Smith in the 1984 adaptation of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and then assumed the role of a Big Brother-esque leader of a fascist Great Britain in the 2006 film V for Vendetta, a movie that drew many parallels to the world of Orwell's 1984.

In 1985, Hurt starred in Disney's The Black Cauldron, voicing the film's main antagonist, the Horned King. In 1986, Hurt provided the voiceover for AIDS: Iceberg / Tombstone, a public information film warning of the dangers of AIDS. He had a memorable supporting role as "Bird" O'Donnell in Jim Sheridan's 1990 film The Field, which garnered him another BAFTA nomination. In 2001, he played Mr. Ollivander, the wand-maker, in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He returned for the adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, though his scenes in that film were cut. He also returned for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In 1999, Hurt provided narration on the British musical group Art of Noise's concept album The Seduction of Claude Debussy. He was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in June 2004. During this time, he narrated a 4 part series on the Universe which was released on DVD in 1999. In May 2008, he appeared in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as Harold Oxley.[17] He is also the voice of The Great Dragon, in the BBC television series, Merlin.[18]

In 2008, 33 years after The Naked Civil Servant, Hurt reprised the role of Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York. This film depicts Crisp's later years in New York.[19]

In June 2009, Hurt played the on-screen Big Brother for Paper Zoo Theatre Company's production of Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty Four. The theatre production premiered at the National Media Museum, in Bradford and will be touring during early 2010. Hurt said, "I think Paper Zoo thought it would be quite ironic to have the person who played Winston having risen in the party. From the Chestnut Tree Cafe, he's managed to get his wits together again, now understanding that 2 and 2 make 5, and becomes Big Brother. So it tickled my fancy, and of course I looked up Paper Zoo, and they seem to me to be the sort of company that’s essential in the country as we know it, and doing a lot of really good stuff."[20]

Personal life Edit

In 1962 Arnould Hurt left his parish in Cleethorpes to become headmaster of St Michaels College in the Central American country of Belize. In that same year Hurt first performed on the London stage, and also married actress Annette Robertson: the marriage ended in 1964. In 1967 he began his longest relationship, with the French model Marie-Lise Volpeliere-Pierrot, the sister of fashion photographer Jean-Claude Volpeliere-Pierrot, whose son Ben would later become a teen idol singing in the pop band Curiosity Killed the Cat.

Hurt's relationship with Marie-Lise was intense and went beyond a casual affair. The couple had planned to get married after fifteen years, when things evolved tragically on 26 January 1983: Hurt and Volpeliere-Pierrot went horse riding early in the morning near their house in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, when suddenly Volpeliere-Pierrot lost her stirrup and was thrown off the horse, landing on her head in the middle of the lane. She went into a coma and died later that day.

Hurt got married for the second time on 6 September 1984 to Texan actress and old friend Donna Peacock at a local Registrar's office. The couple moved to Kenya and tried unsuccessfully to have children through IVF. They divorced in early January 1990. Soon afterwards (on 24 January 1990) Hurt married American production assistant Jo Dalton whom he had met while filming Scandal. With her he had two sons: Sasha John Vincent Hurt (born 6 February 1990) and Nick Hurt (born 5 February 1993), who are currently residing in Waterford, Ireland. His son Nick has gone to acting school in England and wishes to follow in his father's footsteps. This marriage ended in 1996. At one point Hurt was involved with Sarah Owen, twenty years his junior, and with whom he lived in County Wicklow, Ireland. In March 2005, Hurt married his fourth wife, advertising film producer Anwen Rees Meyers.

Hurt's mother died in 1975, and his father died in 1999 at the age of 95.

In January 2002, John Hurt received an honorary degree from the University of Derby and in January 2006 received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Hull.

In 2007, Hurt took part in the BBC genealogical television series Who Do You Think You Are?, which investigated part of his family history. Prior to participating in the programme, Hurt had harboured a love of Ireland and was enamoured of a 'deeply beguiling' family legend that suggested his great-grandmother had been the illegitimate daughter of Irish nobleman the Marquess of Sligo. The genealogical evidence uncovered seemed to contradict the family legend, rendering the 'suggestion' doubtful. Coincidentally, the search revealed that his great-grandmother had previously lived in Grimsby at a location within a mile of the art college at which Hurt had once enrolled.[21] He is distantly related to author Enid Blyton on his father's side.

Since 2006, John Hurt is the patron of Project Harar, a UK-based charity working in Ethiopia for children with facial disfigurements.[22]

Since 2009, John Hurt is the patron of QUAD (a centre for art and film in Derby). On 25 September 2009 Hurt visited QUAD and took part in a Q&A directly preceding a screening of the film 'The Night Train' as part of the celebrations celebrating the 1st Birthday at QUAD (opened on 26 September 2008). The day after, 26 September, John Hurt was guest of honour at Derby County vs Bristol City and went on the pitch at Pride Park at half time to oversee a prize draw.

Filmography Edit

Films Edit

Year Film Role Notes
1962 The Wild and the Willing Phil
1963 This Is My Street Charlie
1966 A Man for All Seasons Richard Rich
1967 The Sailor from Gibraltar John
1969 In Search of Gregory Daniel
Sinful Davey Davey Haggart
Before Winter Comes Lieutenant Pilkington
1971 Mr. Forbush and the Penguins Richard Forbush
10 Rillington Place Timothy John Evans Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1972 The Pied Piper Franz
1974 Little Malcolm Malcolm Scrawdyke
1975 The Ghoul Tom Rawlings
La Linea del fiume Chandler
1977 East of Elephant Rock Nash
Three Dangerous Ladies Lt. Simmonds
The Disappearance Atkinson
1978 Watership Down Hazel Voice role
The Shout Anthony Fielding
Midnight Express Max Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Lord of the Rings Aragorn Voice role
1979 Alien Kane DVD Exclusive Awards for Best Audio Commentary (New for DVD) Shared with: Ridley Scott, Ronald Shusett, Terry Rawlings, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright and Harry Dean Stanton
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1980 The Elephant Man John Merrick BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Heaven's Gate Billy Irvine
1981 Night Crossing Peter Strelzyk
History of the World, Part I Jesus Christ
1982 Partners Kerwin
The Plague Dogs Snitter Voice
1983 The Osterman Weekend Lawrence Fassett
1984 Champions Bob Champion Evening Standard British Film Awards for Best Actor Also for The Hit and Nineteen Eighty-Four
Success Is the Best Revenge Dino Montecurva
The Hit Braddock Evening Standard British Film Awards for Best Actor Also for Champions and Nineteen Eighty-Four
Mystfest for Best Actor Shared with: Terence Stamp and Tim Roth
Nineteen Eighty-Four Winston Smith Evening Standard British Film Awards for Best Actor Also for Champions and The Hit
Fantasporto for Best Actor Tied with Eddy Mitchell for Frankenstein 90
Valladolid International Film Festival for Best Actor Tied with Richard Burton
1985 After Darkness Peter Hunningford
The Black Cauldron The Horned King Voice
1986 Jake Speed Sid
1987 The Hunting of the Snark Narrator Voice
Rocinante Bill
From the Hip Douglas Benoit
Spaceballs Kane
Aria The Actor Segment "I pagliacci"
Vincent Unknown Voice
White Mischief Gilbert Colvile
1988 The Bengali Night Lucien Metz
1989 Scandal Stephen Ward
Little Sweetheart Robert Burger
1990 Romeo-Juliet La Dame aux Chats
Windprints Charles Rutherford
The Field Bird O'Donnell Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Frankenstein Unbound Dr. Joe Buchanan
1991 I Dreamt I Woke Up John Boorman's Alter Ego
King Ralph Lord Percival Graves
1992 Lapse of Memory Conrad Farmer
1993 Kölcsönkapott idő Sean
L'Oeil qui ment Anthony / Le Marquis
Monolith Villano
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues The Countess
1994 Rabbit Ears: Aladdin and the Magic Lamp Storyteller Direct-to-video release
Thumbelina Mr. Mole Voice
Second Best Uncle Turpin
1995 Two Nudes Bathing Marquis de Prey
Saigon Baby Jack Lee
Rob Roy John Graham, Marquis of Montrose
Dead Man John Scholfield
Wild Bill Charley Prince
1997 Tender Loving Care Dr. Turner Interactive CD-ROM film
Love and Death on Long Island Giles De'Ath FIPRESCI Prize - Special Mention of Chicago International Film Festival Shared with: Richard Kwietniowski
Nominated - British Independent Film Awards for Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film
Contact S.R. Hadden
Bandyta Babits
1998 The Commissioner James Morton
Night Train Michael Poole Verona Love Screens Film Festival for Best Actor
All the Little Animals Mr. Summers
1999 The Climb Chuck Langer
New Blood Alan White
A Monkey's Tale Sebastian English dub of French film Le Château des singes
If... Dog... Rabbit... Sean Cooper
You're Dead... Maitland
2000 The Tigger Movie Narrator Voice
Lost Souls Father Lareaux
2001 Tabloid Vince
Captain Corelli's Mandolin Dr. Iannis
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Mr. Ollivander
2002 Miranda Christian
Crime and Punishment Porfiry
2003 Owning Mahowny Victor Foss
Meeting Che Guevara & the Man from Maybury Hill Man from Maybury Hill
Dogville Narrator Voice
2004 Hellboy Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm
Pride Harry Voice
2005 Short Order Felix
Valiant Felix Voice
The Proposition Jellon Lamb Nominated - Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Shooting Dogs Christopher
Manderlay Narrator Voice
The Skeleton Key Ben Devereaux
2006 V for Vendetta Adam Sutler
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Narrator Voice
2007 Boxes Le père de Fanny
2008 Outlander Rothgar
The Oxford Murders Arthur Seldom
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Dr. Harold Oxley
Hellboy II: The Golden Army Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm Cameo
Lecture 21 Mondrian Kilroy
2009 The Limits of Control Guitar
New York, I Love You Waiter
44 Inch Chest Old Man Peanut Nominated - London Film Critics' Circle for Best British Supporting Actor
An Englishman in New York Quentin Crisp
2010 Julius Caesar Sulla pre-production
Lou Doyle
Ultramarines: The Movie Carnak Voice
Brighton Rock Phil Corkery
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Mr. Ollivander
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Mr. Ollivander Post-Production
Melancholia Dexter

Television Edit

Year Title Role Notes
1961 Drama 61-67 Private Briggs Episode 1.16: "Drama '61: Local Incident"
1962 Z-Cars James Hogan Episode 1.29: "Assault"
1963 First Night Garry Episode 1.12: "Menace"
1964 Armchair Theatre Unknown Episode 4.102: "A Jug of Bread"
Thursday Theatre Orpheus Episode 1.11: "Point of Departure"
1964–1965 ITV Play of the Week Various characters Appeared in three episodes
1965 Gideon's Way Freddy Tinsdale Episode 1.14: "The Tin God"
1973 Wessex Tales Joshua Harlborough Episode 1.3: "A Tragedy of Two Ambitions"
1974 The Playboy of the Western World Christopher "Christy" Mahon TV film
1975 The Naked Civil Servant Quentin Crisp TV film
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor; #4 in BFI TV 100
1976 Shades of Greene Fred Episode 2.6: "A Drive in the Country"
Play for Today Alec Cassell Episode 6.22: "The Peddler"
The Sweeney Tony Grey Episode 3.4: "Tomorrow Man"
I, Claudius Caligula TV mini-series
1977 Spectre Mitri Cyon TV film
1979 Crime and Punishment Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov TV mini-series
1983 King Lear The Fool TV film
1988 Deadline Granville Jones
The Storyteller The Storyteller Appeared in all nine first series episodes
1990 The Investigation: Inside a Terrorist Bombing Chris Mullin TV film
1991 Journey to Knock Alfred
Red Fox Archie Carpenter TV mini-series
1992 Six Characters in Search of an Author The Father TV film
1993 Great Moments in Aviation Rex Goodyear
1995 Prisoners in Time Eric Lomax
1998 Saturday Night Live March Hare Episode 23.17
1999–2000 Watership Down' General Woundwort Multiple episodes; voice
2001 Beckett on Film - Krapp's Last Tape Krapp TV film
2002 Bait Jack Blake
2004 The Alan Clark Diaries Alan Clark TV serial
Pride Harry TV film; voice
2005 Hiroshima Narrator Voice
2007 Hellboy: Blood and Iron Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm TV film; voice
Masters of Science Fiction Samswope Episode 1.4: "The Discarded"
2008 Recount Warren Christopher TV film
2008–2010 Merlin (Seasons 1 - 3) The Great Dragon Voice; does not appear in every episode, yet is credited in the opening title sequence for each episode.
2009 Gruffalo The Owl TV film (Children's), voice
2009 The Paul O'Grady Show Himself Penultimate episode
2009 An Englishman in New York Quentin Crisp TV film
Berlin International Film Festival - Teddy Award
Nominated - British Academy Television Award for Best Actor

Video games Edit

Other projects, contributions Edit

  • When Love Speaks (2002, EMI Classics) - "Sonnet 145"
    ("Those lips that Love's own hand did make")
  • Hurt performs in drag for the promotional video for Attitude by the music group Suede.
  • Hurt is seen as the 'Brian Epstein' esque mogul in Paul McCartney's 1982 video for the song 'Take It Away'. McCartney explains in the video commentary section of The McCartney Years DVD (for the song 'Take it Away') that Hurt himself was a friend of The Beatles and Brian Epstein, and that The Beatles had watched Hurt act in the mid-60's and thought him a fine actor.
  • Hurt is the narrator on the album The Seduction of Claude Debussy by the band Art of Noise (1999).
  • John Hurt is the narrator of the 4 part series released in 1999 on The Universe for Channel 4 International, available on DVD.

References Edit

  1. "John Hurt - Biography". Talk Talk. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  2. John Hurt - Biography
  3. 3.0 3.1 "John Hurt Biography (1940-)". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  4. John Hurt awards at IMDB
  5. "Alien named as top 18-rated scene". BBC. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  6. 100 Greatest Scary Moments. Channel 4. 2003-10-25. No. 4 of 100. 50 minutes in.
  7. Kermode, Mark (19 October 2003). "All fright on the night". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  8. "Scariest movie scenes ever". Virgin Media. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  9. Green, Graeme. "John Hurt talks Harry Potter, flamenco and chestbursters". Metro. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  10. "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments". Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2010-05-29. (via Internet Archive)
  11. "The making of Alien's chestburster scene". The Guardian (London). 13 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  12. "BBC Radio Derby". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  13. "Br. Alselm's cookbook". 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "The Guardian Interview: John Hurt". Guardian. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  15. "History of St Michael's School, accessed 21 March 2010. (On Cormack's subsequent appointment to the Headship. For detais of the abuse he perpetrated see the reference to the ''Independent on Sunday''.)". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  16. "Sholto Byrnes, 'John Hurt: I was abused, too', ''Independent on Sunday'' (16 October 2005)". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  17. "IESB First Look: Indy IV Looks Back at the Original Trilogy" (Video). IESB. 1 May 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2008.
  19. "Actor Hurt to reprise Crisp role". BBC News. 29 April 2008. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  20. "John Hurt on 1984". National Media Museum. Retrieved 2010-10-28.[dead link]
  21. "Who Do You Think You Are? BBC Magazine - About the series". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  22. "John Hurt". Project Harar. 2006-07-19. Retrieved 2010-10-28.

External links Edit

Template:BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor 1968-1984 Template:BAFTA Award for Best Actor 1980-1999 Template:GoldenGlobeBestSuppActorMotionPicture 1961-1980

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