William Hurt, an acclaimed actor best known for his 1985 Oscar-winning portrayal of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and his work on “The Big Chill” and “Body Heat”, died Sunday of natural causes. He was 71 years old. Hurt’s death has been confirmed variety by his friend, Gerry Byrne.
Hurt was nominated for four Oscars over the course of his long career, earning two Best Actor nominations for “Broadcast News” and “Children of a Lesser God” and a supporting actor for under 10 minutes on screen in “A History of Violence.” He was one of the most heralded artists of the 1980s, becoming something of a cerebral sex symbol and a reluctant, if bankable, movie star. Hurt later transitioned into character roles in the 1990s and successfully alternated between big-screen projects and television roles, such as his Emmy nominated turn as a whistleblower on “Damages.”
More recently, Hurt has risen to fame among the younger generation of movie lovers with his 2008 portrayal of General Thaddeus Ross “The Incredible Hulk”. He later reprized the roles in “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War”, “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Widow”.
Hurt was born on March 20, 1950 in Washington, DC. His mother, Claire Isabel, worked at Time Inc., and his father Alfred Hurt (1910–1996), was a career bureaucrat, worked for the United States Agency for International Development and the Department of State. His parents separated when he was 6 and his mother remarried Henry Luce III, the son of Time Magazine publisher Henry Luce.
Raised in relative privilege, Hurt continued to attend Tufts University, where he studied theology, before moving to Juilliard to study acting. After appearing on stage, Hurt secured a starring role in “Altered States,” playing a restless scientist in Ken Russell’s offbeat film, a notable voice in the body horror genre. But a year later, Hurt reached a new level of importance, appearing alongside Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat,” a steamy noir that updated the kind of betrayal and double-cross seen in the likes of “The Big. Sleep “and” Double Indemnity “. “With an invigorating sexuality. He made both artists, who positively lit up on screen, into big stars. Hurt followed him with another starring role in “Gorky Park” and was part of the ensemble of “The Big Chill”, a drama about a group of friends getting together that has become a milestone for the baby generation. boom.
This was all a foretaste of one of the most extraordinary periods of domination ever enjoyed by a movie star. From 1986 to 1988, Hurt was nominated for three consecutive Oscars for Best Actor, winning for his portrayal of a gay window dresser in “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun Times, praised Hurt’s work, giving him credit for creating “… a character completely different from anyone else I’ve ever played – a frankly theatrical, over-the-top, polite character – yet seems to fall short. never the effects. ” His Oscar-nominated work in “Children of a Lesser God” and “Broadcast News”, in the role of a teacher at a deaf school and an affable and slightly obtuse reporter, showcased his range. commercial and critical acclaim of those films put Hurt on the A-list, but he didn’t seem to appreciate stardom.
“It’s not fair for my privacy to be invaded to the extent it is,” Hurt told The New York Times in a 1989 interview. “I’m a very private man and I have a right to be. I never said that because I was an actor you can have my privacy, you can steal my soul. You can not.
Perhaps it was that distaste for notoriety that led Hurt to shoot some major films over the course of his career, with the actor spending the opportunity to star in the likes of “Jurassic Park” and “Misery”. It was also a time of personal trouble for the actor, in which he struggled with drugs and alcohol.
“I was completely miserable and, in the end, I had been pretty miserable, long enough, and I said, ‘I’m done, I can’t hack it, I can’t do it,'” Hurt told the Washington Post, recalling the time before he went in. rehabilitation.
A relationship with Marlee Matlin, his co-star in “Children of a Lesser God”, was a problem. Matlin later wrote in a memoir that Hurt was emotionally and physically hurtful towards her. In a statement at the time, Hurt, via a spokesperson, said, “My recollection is that we both apologized and we both did a lot to heal our lives. Of course I did and I apologize for the pain I caused. And I know we’ve both grown up. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good.
The 1990s proved to be a less fruitful time for Hurt professionally. He garnered praise for his work on “The Doctor” as an arrogant surgeon who changes his mind after experiencing health problems, but other films like “Second Chances” and “Until the End of the World” failed to generate much Warning. A rare attempt at popcorn entertainment with the 1998 big-screen adaptation of “Lost in Space” was a modest success, but it didn’t make enough money to spawn a franchise, and Hurt looked miserable throughout the film.
But as the facts dawned, Hurt, with his blonde hair thinning, seemed to settle in life in supporting roles, scoring shifts-stealing scenes as an urban spy in “The Good Shepherd,” a demanding father in “Into the Wild “and, most memorably, as a sinister mafia boss in” A History of Violence “. His role in the latter film, in which he admits to his hitman brother that “when mom brought you home from the hospital, I tried to strangle you in your crib,” was a master class he’s doing a lot with a little. of time on the screen.
Hurt was married to actress Mary Beth Hurt from 1971 to 1982 and was married to Heidi Henderson from 1989 to 1991.
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