It was extremely sad news to hear that Sir John Hurt had passed away on January 27, 2017.
He had suffered with pancreatic cancer in 2015, the same year he received his Knighthood. He also admitted that he had a long fight with alcohol for many years.
Hurt had a long list of professional acting credits with both TV and films over the last 55-years. So, on a personal note, I sort of grew up watching this brilliant diverse actor, from Horror films and voice overs for animated movies to portraying an array of real life characters such as Quentin Crisp and Elephant Man John Merrick.
In 1978 alone he made 6 movies one of which, Midnight Express earned him a nomination for an academy award playing the drug addict Max incarcerated in a Turkish prison. Also in that same year, he used that distinctive voice to bring to life two very different animated characters. Aragon, in Ralph Bakshi’s unique version of Lord of the Rings and Hazel the rabbit in Watership Down. Both of which developed a kind of cult status.
John Hurt chose his acting roles well and appealed to all age groups.
His portrayal of the Gay and flamboyant Quentin Crisp who refused to hide his homosexuality at a time when it was outlawed, won him a Bafta award. The TV series also changed the public perception of the Gay community.
More recent audiences will remember Hurt as Mr Ollivander, who owned the wand shop in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) & Part 2 (2011). He was also the voice of The Great Dragon in the BBC TV show Merlin (2013).
My most memorable scene of John Hurt’s must be the creature chest burst in Alien (1979), which at the time was totally unexpected. Although nowadays it’s more difficult to avoid spoilers with the new-fangled thing called the internet!
I have to mention a few more John Hurt TV and Movie credits that you may want to check out:
Hellboy (2004), 1984 (1984), The Elephant Man (1980), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Scandal (1989) and V for Vendetta (2005). From TV there was the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episodes as the man himself. A fitting tribute to the popular series.
You can catch Hurt’s most recent film Jackie (2016) about the First Lady, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy in cinemas now.
John Hurt is a true loss to the Arts. There will never be another to take his place.