The British thespian and recipient of a Golden Globe Award and four BAFTA Awards (along with two Academy Award nominations), John Hurt, has passed away from complications believed to have arisen from a multi-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
His career has spanned more than than five decades, with immortalized performances as John Merrick in Elephant Man, The Storyteller, General Woundwort in Watership Down, The Dragon in the Merlin TV series, The War Doctor in Dr. Who, and as the wand seller Ollivander in the Harry Potter films.
Back in June of 2015, he had announced that he’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but at that time he and his doctors had been optimistic.
One recurring theme throughout his career would be how often his characters wound up dying in any number of ways. He reportedly had once said, “it’s gotten to a point where his children would not ask me if I died, but rather how do you die?” In a play on the idea of having been such a frequent demises, he created a video titled, The Many Deaths of John Hurt (shared at the bottom of this post).
Back in 2013, Hurt spoke to The Guardian regarding his experiences appearing at conventions:
I’ve done a couple of conferences where you sit and sign autographs for people and then you have photographs taken with them and a lot of them all dressed up in alien suits or Doctor Who whatevers. I was terrified of doing it because I thought they’d all be loonies, but they are absolutely, totally charming as anything. It’s great fun. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing – I don’t know whether it is or isn’t – but they are very charming.
BAFTA awarded Hurt a lifetime achievement award in 2012, and Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 2015 (he had been previously made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in ’04).
Hurt is survived by his fourth wife, producer and casting director, Anwen Rees-Myers and sons Alexander and Nicholas.
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