John Hurt‘s passing has left behind another hole in the heart of Hollywood, but his roles will live on forever.
Hurt, who died at the age of 77, had a long-lasting career in films and the stage, starring in such classics as David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and Midnight Express.
Midnight Express (1978)
Hurt’s turn as Max in this classic film earned him his first Academy Award nomination for his portrayal as a heroin addict imprisoned in a Turkish jail.
Starring opposite Brad Davis, who played the main character Billy Hayes, an imprisoned American college student, Hurt delivered an astounding performance that proved his chops in Hollywood and around the world.
“I loved making Midnight Express,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014. “We were making commercial films then that really did have cracking scenes in them, as well as plenty to say, you know?”
The Elephant Man (1980)
Hurt starred as John Merrick in this 80’s classic. For The Elephant Man, Hurt was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor for his touching portrayal of a man born severely disfigured in 19th century London, England.
The Harry Potter franchise
The British actor made himself known to a younger generation of movie audiences with his portrayal of Mr. Ollivander, the mysterious wand maker in three of the Harry Potter films.
As Ollivander, Hurt introduced Daniel Radcliffe’s character to his wand, speaking the immortal words all Potterheads know by heart: “The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter.”
Hurt played the role in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) and Part 2 (2011).
Doctor Who (2013)
Hurt went on to play The Doctor in Doctor Who, starring as the incarnation of the titular character, known as the War Doctor. His character disowns the name of the Doctor, feeling as though the universe no longer has a need for one, with his new incarnation’s first words being, “Doctor no more.”
On filling in the iconic shoes, Hurt told The Guardian in 2013: “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 are 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. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing — I don’t know whether it is or isn’t — but they are very charming.”
V for Vendetta (2005)
As Adam Sutler in the Natalie Portman film V for Vendetta, Hurt brought this tyrant to life.
The film, which depicts a freedom fighter in a mask only known as “V,” is about a future British tyranny that is brought down by Portman’s heroine, a journalist who becomes a mole inside the government.
Hurt portrayed Kane, an executive officer aboard the commercial spacecraft Nostromo, who unfortunately discovers a chamber containing hundreds of eggs, which subsequently leads to a creature attaching itself to his face.
In a now-classic scene, Kane enjoys dinner alongside other passengers and officers aboard the ship before experiencing a horrific death when a chestburster erupts from his chest.
Close friend Richard E. Grant was heartbroken by the news, tweeting, “So so sad to have lost such an extraordinary talent and friend. Sir John Hurt. R. I. P.”
Hurt was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, but later said he was clear of the disease.