William Hurt, Academy Award Winner and MCU Star, Dead at 71: Report

William Hurt reportedly died Sunday of natural causes, surrounded by family, according to a social media statement from his son Will Hurt

William Hurt poses for a portrait during the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour
Photo: Rich Fury/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

William Hurt, the Academy Award-winning actor known for Kiss of the Spider Woman and his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has reportedly died. He was 71.

The actor died Sunday of natural causes, surrounded by family, according to a social media statement from his son Will Hurt, per Deadline. Hurt was previously diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that spread to the bone.

"It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of William Hurt, beloved father and Oscar winning actor, on March 13, 2022, one week before his 72nd birthday. He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes. The family requests privacy at this time," his son wrote.

Born March 20, 1950, in Washington, D.C., Hurt studied acting at Juilliard School and began performing with the Circle Repertory Company in 1977, the same year he made his onscreen debut in Kojak. His first major role was in Ken Russell's 1980 sci-fi film Altered States, before he went on to success on the big screen through the '80s with roles in such films as Body Heat, The Big Chill, Broadcast News, and The Accidental Tourist.

William Hurt. ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Hurt won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in 1985's Kiss of the Spider Woman. He also earned nominations for his roles in Children of a Lesser God, Broadcast News, and A History of Violence.

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"I'm a character actor in a leading man's body," Hurt told PEOPLE in 1985. "I want more mask than, say, Spencer Tracy did. But I don't 'pretend' to be somebody else. Acting isn't schizoid like that. Acting is about telling the truth. And it's an adventure. It isn't about what I know before I do it. It's about what I can discover while it's happening."

Lawrence Kasdan (front) stands with the male cast of his film, 'The Big Chill,' on location, 1983. L-R: actors Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline and William Hurt.
Columbia Tristar/Courtesy of Getty

His other notable credits include Jane Eyre (1996), Michael (1996), Lost In Space (1998), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Tuck Everlasting (2002), The Village (2004), The Good Shepherd (2006), Into the Wild (2007) and the TV series Condor.

Hurt was also well-known for portraying General Thaddeus Ross in five Marvel movies: The Incredible Hulk (2008), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Black Widow (2021).

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The actor was mourned by friends and fans on social media, including his Broadcast News costar Albert Brooks. "R.I.P. William Hurt. So sad to hear this news. Working with him on Broadcast News was amazing. He will be greatly missed," he wrote.

"Grateful that I had the opportunity to work with William Hurt," wrote Topher Grace, who starred with Hurt in 2011's Too Big to Fail. "I admired his acting so much and watching his commitment in person was remarkable. My thoughts are with his family.

"Wow, another Major loss to the acting community. Great actor. Great mind. RIP," Hurt's Avengers: Endgame costar Mark Ruffalo wrote.

Hurt was accused of physical and emotional abuse by his former girlfriend and costar from Children of a Lesser God (1986), Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, 56. Her relationship with Hurt began when she was 19 and he was 35. In her 2010 memoir I'll Scream Later, she wrote that Hurt was verbally and physically abusive to her during their two years together, accusing him of sexual assault. In it, she recounted a night when Hurt came home drunk while filming Broadcast News. "… the next thing I knew he'd pulled me out of the bed, screaming at me, shaking me," she wrote. "I was scared, I was sobbing. Then he threw me on the bed, started ripping off his clothes and mine. I was crying. 'No, no, no. Please Bill, no.' The next thing I remember is Bill ramming himself inside me as I sobbed."

After the book was published, Hurt released a statement saying, "My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we have both grown."

Hurt is survived by his four children and two ex-wives.

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