Actor John Hurt Dead at 77

His finest work included Elephant Man , Midnight Express
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 28, 2017 5:30 AM CST
John Hurt arrivesfor the UK film premiere of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" at the BFI Southbank in London, 2011.   (Sang Tan)
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(Newser) – The versatile British actor Sir John Hurt, who could move audiences to tears in The Elephant Man, terrify them in Alien, and spoof that very same scene in Spaceballs, has died. He was 77. Hurt, who battled pancreatic cancer, died Friday in London, according to his agent, Charles McDonald. Twice nominated for an Oscar, for playing the tortured John Merrick in David Lynch's The Elephant Man and for his role as the heroin addict Max in Midnight Express, Hurt's career spanned over 50 years. After minor television and film appearances, his breakout came in 1966 as Richard Rich in Fred Zinnemann's A Man For All Seasons, followed by his portrayal of Caligula in the BBC miniseries I, Claudius in 1976.

Hurt was also a prolific voice actor, appearing as Hazel in the animated Watership Down, and as Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings. He also voiced The Horned King in The Black Cauldron and provided the narration for Dogville. In the Harry Potter films, Hurt played the wand-maker Mr. Ollivander. In recent years, he appeared in notable fare such as Melancholia, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Snowpiercer. "We're all just passing time, and occupy our chair very briefly," Hurt said in a 2015 interview while undergoing treatments for the early stage cancer. As prolific as ever, Hurt recently appeared alongside his V for Vendetta co-star Natalie Portman in the Oscar-nominated film Jackie as a priest who consoles the recently widowed first lady. (Read more John Hurt stories.)

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