Sir John Hurt dies: Actor 'one of the greats'

January 29, 2017
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Sir John Hurt, who died aged 77 from pancreatic cancer, has been described as one of Britain’s greatest actors.

The renowned star featured in more than 200 films and TV series during an illustrious career which spanned six decades.

He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant, as well as his performances in The Elephant Man, 1984, Watership Down and Midnight Express.


Sir John Hurt was awarded a knighthood by the Queen two years ago

Image Caption:
Sir John said he was ‘inordinately proud’ to be knighted

In Ridley Scott’s Alien, the actor played the first victim of the title creature – a performance which earned him a BAFTA nomination.

Sir John, who was born in Derbyshire, found new fans when he starred as wandmaker Ollivander in the Harry Potter films.

He also appeared in two special episodes of Doctor Who to mark the sci-fi show’s 50th anniversary in 2013.


Sir John on set at the Garrick Theatre in 1966

Image Caption:
Sir John on set at the Garrick Theatre in 1966

Sir John died at his home in Norfolk on Wednesday. His wife Anwen Rees-Myer, who he married in 2005, said it will be a “strange world” without the veteran star.

She said: “John was the most sublime of actors and the most gentlemanly of gentlemen with the greatest of hearts and the most generosity of spirit.

“He touched all our lives with joy and magic and it will be a strange world without him.”

Fellow British actor Jeremy Irons told Sky News of his “enormous sadness” at his friend’s death.

Irons said: “He was an extraordinary combination as an actor. He had that amazing voice and that incredible face, completely chasmed with lines, and the most interesting mind behind that.”

The Oscar-winning star added: “He was not only an enormous amount of fun to be with but he was also immensely serious.

“He was one of our greatest actors that you could count on two hands and a huge loss.”


Sir John Hurt and Natalie Portman

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Jeremy Irons: Hurt was great actor and friend

Former Grand National-winning jockey Bob Champion, who Sir John played in a 1984 film, said: “John was a great fun-loving man. A really professional actor.

“I was chuffed to death when they said he was going to play me because of his professionalism in every film. I always admired him in all his films.”

He said he “was absolutely shocked” by his death, adding “it’s a little bit of me gone” as he described the actor as a “fantastic man”.

One of Sir John’s most recent performances was in the Oscar-nominated film Jackie, which was released in the UK just eight days ago.

The actor was knighted by the Queen at Windsor Castle in 2015, when he was midway through a course of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

Sir John won four BAFTA awards during his career, including a lifetime achievement recognition for his outstanding contribution to British cinema in 2012. He was also nominated for two Academy Awards.

Last June, he pulled out of the West End production The Entertainer on advice from doctors, as he had been suffering from an intestinal complaint.

Elijah Wood, who played Frodo Baggins in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, tweeted: “Very sad to hear of John Hurt’s passing. It was such an honour to have watched you work, sir.”

Harry Potter author JK Rowling said the 77-year-old was “immensely talented and deeply beloved”, while writer and director Mel Brooks described Sir John as a “truly magnificent talent”.

He added: “No one could have played The Elephant Man more memorably. He carried that film into cinematic immortality. He will be sorely missed.”

Sir John had continued to work throughout his treatment for pancreatic cancer.



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