Tribute: John Hurt (1940 - 2017)

I woke up to the news, this morning that the world has lost another brilliant and beloved talent. The press is reporting the devastating death of John Hurt (1940 - 2017) a great actor, and one instantly recognizable, globe-wide, for his unforgettable roles, and distinct, gravelly voice.

Mr. Hurt is responsible for some of the best remembered film-performances of the 1970s and 1980s. Famously, he starred as Kane in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), and gave the world what is, arguably, the most memorable death scene in over a hundred years of cinema. 

Hurt repeated that touchstone chest-burster death scene, to great comedic effect, in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs (1987).

In 1980, Hurt portrayed the tragic John Merrick in David Lynch's classic film, The Elephant Man.  An to great impact, he also portrayed George Orwell's protagonist, Winston Smith, in an adaptation of the novel 1984, in 1984.

In the age of modern blockbusters, John Hurt proved a dependable, solid, frequently seen presence in franchises such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Indiana Jones.  He also graced the science fiction film in Contact (1997), based on the novel by Carl Sagan.

John Hurt was also a notable presence on genre TV. 

The first time I ever saw him, for example, was in SPECTRE (1977), an unsold, supernatural pilot from Gene Roddenberry.  Later, he acted as the narrator on Jim Henson's anthology, The StoryTeller (1988).

Most recently, science fiction TV fans had the chance to rejoice when John Hurt appeared in the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who (2005 - ) as a forgotten incarnation of the beloved Time Lord, The War Doctor.

Although Mr. Hurt succumbed to illness at age 77, his performances on the silver and small screen will remain immortal.  Rest in Peace, John Hurt.


  1. He will be missed immensely. Just a superb actor and human being.

  2. John Hurt leaves behind a vast group of characters that he brought to life. RIP

  3. Anonymous8:25 PM

    If I'm not mistaken, he did not speak a line in 2005's Skeleton Key, but added tremendously to the feeling of mystery, dread, and blind terror in a less than perfect film.


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