From Shakespeare to the MCU, he leaves behind a career as remarkable as it is eclectic.
Cinema has just lost one of its greatest performers. We learned on Sunday of the death of William Hurt at the age of 71. “It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of Willam Hurt, beloved father and Oscar-winning actor, on March 13, 2022, a week before his 72nd birthday. He died peacefully, surrounded by his family, of natural causes“, said his son in a press release notably taken up by Variety.
William Hurt is not the first name that comes up in discussions about the best actors of his generation. And yet, it has its place. Trained in theatre, the DC native has a resume that is as impressive as it is eclectic. From his first film appearance in Beyond reality from Ken Russell, in 1980, to his last role in Black Widowin 2021, he has always been on the right track, marking several generations of moviegoers.
From his beginnings, Hurt seduced the great directors, such as Peter Yates (The eye of the witness) or Lawrence Kasdan (body fever, Friends first), and after a few years in the circuit he already reaches the Holy Grail with his fascinating composition in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), alongside Raul Julia and Sonia Braga, where he plays an imprisoned homosexual. A role which will earn him the interpretation prize at Cannes in 1985, then the Oscar for best actor in 1986, a rare double which already propels him among the greatest.
William Hurt will be nominated for three more Oscars for The Children of Silence, Broadcast News and his memorable second role in A History of Violence by David Cronenberg. He knows a few empty passages because of his addiction problems, but always gets up. A prolific and jack-of-all-trades actor, he does not forbid himself anything, trying his hand at SF with Alex Proyas (DarkCity) or Steven Spielberg (AI: Artificial Intelligence), to the fantastic at Shyamalan (The village), without denying the dramas (he is superb in Into the Wild by Sean Penn).
In 2008, he even joined the very young Marvel Cinematic Universe by playing Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in The Incredible Hulk. Small role that he will still hold in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Black Widowwhich will therefore mark his last appearance on a film set (The King’s Daughterreleased in 2022, had been filmed in 2014).
Hurt was at home everywhere, even on television. He was Duke Leto Atreides from the miniseries Dunes aired in 2000 on Sci-Fi. He, again, the Daniel Purcell of season 2 of Damagesalongside Glenn Close, and the Henry Paulson of the HBO TV movie Too Big to Fail: Wall Street Debacle, directed by Curtis Hanson.
William Hurt will have even rubbed shoulders with French cinema, sharing the poster ofA Couch in New York with Juliette Binoche, and that ofCloser to paradise with Catherine Deneuve, without forgetting her role in I’m angry at his absence of Sandrine Bonnaire, with whom he had a child.
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William Hurt dead: Oscar-winning actor was 71