HISTORY OF ACTOR JOHN HURTS
Hurt at the Festival de Dinard, 2009
|Born||John Vincent Hurt
22 January 1940
Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom
|Spouse||Annette Robertson (1962–64; divorced)
Donna Peacock (1984–90; divorced)
Jo Dalton (1990–96; divorced; 2 children)
Ann Rees Meyers (2005–present)
John Vincent Hurt, CBE (born 22 January 1940) is an English actor and voice actor. Among other honours, he has received two Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe Award, and four BAFTA Awards, with the fourth being a Lifetime Achievement recognition.
Hurt is known for his leading roles as Joseph Merrick (billed as John Merrick) in The Elephant Man, 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, 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 first, penultimate, and last Harry Potter films, the Hellboy film series, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Hurt is one of England’s best-known, most prolific and sought-after actors, and has had a versatile film career spanning six decades. He is also known for his many Shakespearean roles. His character’s final scene in Alien is consistently named as one of the most memorable in cinematic history.
John Hurt was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, when his father was vicar of Shirebrook. He is the son of Phyllis (née Massey), an amateur actress and engineer, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, a mathematician who became an Anglican clergyman. Hurt has an older brother, Br. Anselm (born Michael), a Roman Catholic convert who became a monk and writer at Glenstal Abbey, to whose books his younger brother John has contributed.
Hurt 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, South Derbyshire and remained there until 1952. In 1945, John’s father founded 1st Woodville (St Stephens) Scout Group which is still going strong today.
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.”Hurt’s mother died in 1975, and his father died in 1999 at the age of 95.
At the age of eight he was sent to the Anglican 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 of The Bluebird (L’Oiseau Bleu) by Maurice Maeterlinck. While he was a pupil at the school, he was abused by Donald Cormack (now deceased), then Senior Master of the school and later Head Teacher (until his retirement in 1981). 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.”
His father moved to St Aidan’s Church in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. 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.”
Aged 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..
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 end of the 1970s and 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 Laurence Olivier’s King in King Lear. Hurt also appeared as Raskolnikov in the BBC series Crime and Punishment in 1980.
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 Adam Sutler (a Big Brother-esque leader of a fascist Great Britain) in the 2006 film V for Vendetta, a film 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. In 1988 He voiced the main role in The StoryTeller, a professional capturer of imagination. 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 Philosopher’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 – Part 1 and Part 2. 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 four 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.He is also the voice of The Great Dragon Kilgharrah, who aids the young warlock Merlin as he protects the future king Arthur, in the BBC television series Merlin.
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.[
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.”
Hurt is due to appear alongside Ben Kingsley in a new feature entitle Broken Dream which will be directed by Neil Jordan in 2011. At the 65th British Academy Film Awards Hurt won the award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.
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In 1962, Hurt’s father left his parish in Cleethorpes to become headmaster of St Michael’s College in the Central American country of Belize. In that same year, John Hurt first performed on the London stage and married actress Annette Robertson. The marriage ended in 1964. In 1967 he began his longest relationship, with French model Marie-Lise Volpeliere-Pierrot, sister of fashion photographer Jean-Claude Volpeliere-Pierrot. The couple had planned to get married after fifteen years, when events took a tragic turn on 26 January 1983: Hurt and Volpeliere-Pierrot went horse riding early in the morning near their house in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire. Volpeliere-Pierrot was thrown off her horse and suffered a tragic fall. She went into a coma and died later that day.
Hurt married Texan actress and old friend Donna Peacock at a local Registrar‘s office on 6 September 1984. The couple moved to Kenya. They divorced in early January 1990.
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 County Waterford, Ireland. Nick has gone to acting school in England and wishes to follow in his father’s footsteps. This marriage ended in 1996 and was followed with a seven-year relationship with Dublin-born presenter and writer Sarah Owens. The couple moved to County Wicklow, where they settled close to their friends, director John Boorman and Claddagh Records founder and Guinness heir The Hon Garech de Brun. In July 2002 the couple separated. In March 2005, Hurt married his fourth wife, advertising film producer Anwen Rees Meyers.
In January 2002, 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.
Since 2006, John Hurt has been a patron of Project Harar, a UK-based charity working in Ethiopia for children with facial disfigurements.
Since 2009, he has been patron of QUAD. 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 festivities, celebrating the first 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 Stadium at half time to oversee a prize draw.
During August 2012 he will become the first Provost of Norwich University College of the Arts
|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|
|1969||Sinful Davey||Davey Haggart|
|1969||Before Winter Comes||Lieutenant Pilkington|
|1971||Mr. Forbush and the Penguins||Richard Forbush|
|1971||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|
|1975||La Linea del fiume||Chandler|
|1977||East of Elephant Rock||Nash|
|1977||Three Dangerous Ladies||Lt. Simmonds|
|1978||Watership Down||Hazel||Voice role|
|1978||The Shout||Anthony Fielding|
|1978||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
|1978||The Lord of the Rings||Aragorn||Voice role|
|1979||Alien||Kane||DVDX Award for Best Audio Commentary (New for DVD) (2003 re-issue in Alien Quadrilogy, 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
|1980||Heaven’s Gate||Billy Irvine|
|1981||Night Crossing||Peter Strelzyk|
|1981||History of the World, Part I||Jesus Christ|
|1982||The Plague Dogs||Snitter||Voice|
|1983||The Osterman Weekend||Lawrence Fassett|
|1984||Champions||Bob Champion||Evening Standard British Film Awards for Best ActorAlso for The Hit and Nineteen Eighty-Four|
|1984||Success Is the Best Revenge||Dino Montecurva|
|1984||The Hit||Braddock||Evening Standard British Film Awards for Best ActorAlso for Champions and Nineteen Eighty-Four
Mystfest for Best ActorShared with: Terence Stamp and Tim Roth
|1984||Nineteen Eighty-Four||Winston Smith||Evening Standard British Film Awards for Best ActorAlso for Champions and The Hit
Fantasporto for Best ActorTied with Eddy Mitchell for Frankenstein 90
Valladolid International Film Festival for Best ActorTied with Richard Burton
|1985||After Darkness||Peter Hunningford||Entered into the 35th Berlin International Film Festival|
|1985||The Black Cauldron||The Horned King||Voice|
|1987||The Hunting of the Snark||Narrator||Voice|
|1987||From the Hip||Douglas Benoit|
|1987||Spaceballs||Kane||Cameo of his “Alien” (1979) character ‘Kane’, humorously self-parodied with the line: “Oh no… Not again!”|
|1987||Aria||The Actor||Segment “I pagliacci”|
|1987||Vincent||Narrator (Vincent van Gogh’s Letters to his bother)||Voice|
|1987||White Mischief||Gilbert Colvile|
|1988||The Bengali Night||Lucien Metz|
|1989||Little Sweetheart||Robert Burger|
|1990||Romeo-Juliet||La Dame aux Chats
|1990||The Field||Bird O’Donnell||Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|1990||Frankenstein Unbound||Dr. Joe Buchanan
|1991||I Dreamt I Woke Up||John Boorman’s Alter Ego|
|1991||King Ralph||Lord Percival Graves|
|1992||Lapse of Memory||Conrad Farmer|
|1993||L’Oeil qui ment||Anthony / Le Marquis|
|1993||Even Cowgirls Get the Blues||The Countess|
|1994||Rabbit Ears: Aladdin and the Magic Lamp||Storyteller||Direct-to-video release|
|1994||Felidae||Pascal (Claudandus)||Voice (English dub)|
|1994||Second Best||Uncle Turpin|
|1995||Two Nudes Bathing||Marquis de Prey|
|1995||Saigon Baby||Jack Lee|
|1995||Rob Roy||John Graham, Marquis of Montrose|
|1995||Dead Man||John Scholfield|
|1995||Wild Bill||Charley Prince|
|1997||Tender Loving Care||Dr. Turner||Interactive CD-ROM film|
|1997||Love and Death on Long Island||Giles De’Ath||FIPRESCI Prize – Special Mention of Chicago International Film FestivalShared with: Richard Kwietniowski
Nominated – British Independent Film Awards for Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film
|1998||The Commissioner||James Morton||Entered into the 48th Berlin International Film Festival|
|1998||Night Train||Michael Poole||Verona Love Screens Film Festival for Best Actor|
|1998||All the Little Animals||Mr. Summers|
|1999||The Climb||Chuck Langer|
|1999||New Blood||Alan White|
|1999||A Monkey’s Tale||Sebastian||English dub of French film Le Château des singes|
|1999||If… Dog… Rabbit…||Sean Cooper|
|2000||The Tigger Movie||Narrator||Voice|
|2000||Lost Souls||Father Lareaux|
|2001||Captain Corelli’s Mandolin||Dr. Iannis|
|2001||Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone||Mr. Ollivander|
|2002||Crime and Punishment||Porfiry|
|2003||Owning Mahowny||Victor Foss|
|2003||Meeting Che Guevara & the Man from Maybury Hill||Man from Maybury Hill|
|2004||Hellboy||Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm|
|2005||The Proposition||Jellon Lamb||Nominated – Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|2005||The Skeleton Key||Ben Devereaux|
|2006||V for Vendetta||Adam Sutler|
|2006||Perfume: The Story of a Murderer||Narrator||Voice|
|2007||Boxes||Le père de Fanny|
|2008||The Oxford Murders||Arthur Seldom|
|2008||Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull||Dr. Harold Oxley|
|2008||Hellboy II: The Golden Army||Professor Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm||Cameo|
|2008||Lecture 21||Mondrian Kilroy|
|2009||The Limits of Control||Guitar|
|2009||New York, I Love You||Waiter|
|2009||44 Inch Chest||Old Man Peanut||Nominated – London Film Critics’ Circle for Best British Supporting Actor|
|2010||Ultramarines: The Movie||Carnak||Voice|
|2010||Brighton Rock||Phil Corkery|
|2010||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1||Mr. Ollivander|
|2011||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2||Mr. Ollivander|
|2011||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||Control|
|2012||The Absinthe Drinkers||Antonio Argenti||filming|
|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”|
|1964||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||television film|
|1975||The Naked Civil Servant||Quentin Crisp||television 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”|
|1976||Play for Today||Alec Cassell||Episode 6.22: “The Peddler”|
|1976||The Sweeney||Tony Grey||Episode 3.4: “Tomorrow Man”|
|1976||I, Claudius||Caligula||TV mini-series|
|1977||Spectre||Mitri Cyon||television film|
|1979||Crime and Punishment||Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov||TV mini-series|
|1983||King Lear||The Fool||television film|
|1988||Deadline||Granville Jones||television film|
|1988||The Storyteller||The Storyteller||Appeared in all nine first series episodes|
|1990||The Investigation: Inside a Terrorist Bombing||Chris Mullin||television film|
|1991||Journey to Knock||Alfred||television film|
|1991||Red Fox||Archie Carpenter||TV mini-series|
|1992||Six Characters in Search of an Author||The Father||television 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||television film|
|2004||The Alan Clark Diaries||Alan Clark||TV serial|
|2004||Pride||Harry||television film; voice|
|2007||Hellboy: Blood and Iron||Professor Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm||television film; voice|
|2007||Masters of Science Fiction||Samswope||Episode 1.4: “The Discarded”|
|2008||Recount||Warren Christopher||television film|
|2008–Present||Merlin (Seasons 1,2,3,4 – pres)||The Great Dragon, Killgarrah||Voice; does not appear in every episode, yet is credited in the opening title sequence for each episode.|
|2009||The Gruffalo||The Owl||television film (Children’s), voice|
|2009||The Paul O’Grady Show||Himself||Penultimate episode|
|2009||An Englishman in New York||Quentin Crisp||television film
Berlin International Film Festival – Teddy Award
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
|2010||Whistle and I’ll Come to You||James Parkin||television film|
|2011||Harry’s Arctic Heroes||Narrator||Documentary|
|2011||The Gruffalo’s Child||The Owl||television film (Children’s), voice|
|2012||Labyrinth||Audric Baillard||TV miniseries|
|2012||The Jonathan Ross Show||Himself||One episo|
- Privateer 2: The Darkening (1996) – Joe the Bartender
- Tender Loving Care (1998) – Dr. Turner
- Lord of the Rings: Conquest (2009) – Narrator
Other projects, contributions
- 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.
- Hurt co-starred along side Kiefer Sutherland in the 10 part web series The Confessi