Sir John Vincent Hurt, CBE, was an English actor whose decorated career spanned over six decades, film, theatre, television, and voice overs. He was born January 22, 1940 to an engineer and mathematician/clergyman. His love of acting flourished when at the age of eight years old he attended St. Michael’s Preparatory School in Otford, Kent; his very first role being that of a young girl in the school production of The Bluebird by Maurice Maeterlinck.
His first major film role was in a 1966 adaptation of A Man for All Seasons, as Richard Rich. Later, in 1971, he portrayed Timothy Evans, a man hanged for the murders committed by his landlord John Christie, in the film 10 Rillington Place. This role would earn Hurt his first BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He would then later play the Roman Emperor Caligula in a BBC drama series titled I, Claudius in 1976.
Over the next decade, Hurt would go on to play characters in major films such as Alien, Little Malcolm, 1984, and The Elephant Man, which won him yet another BAFTA. In 1978, he voiced Aragorn in an animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings. He also lent his voice to Disney for the Black Cauldron, where he voiced the terrifying antagonist, the Horned King.
In the 2000’s he portrayed Ollivander the wandmaker in the first, fourth, and last Harry Potter films (though his scenes in the fourth movie were later cut), Adam Sutler in V for Vendetta, Harold Oxley in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and voiced the Great Dragon Kilgharrah in the BBC television series Merlin. In 2013, Hurt appeared in the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, as the forgotten regeneration of the Doctor, known only as the War Doctor. Fans quickly fell for his character, as they learned the history of the Doctor and the burden of the Time War that he carried on his shoulders. His character first appeared at the end of the seventh series finale, “Name of the Doctor”, his regeneration taking place at the end of the 50th anniversary episode.
In 2004, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), the most excellent order of the British Empire; an award for contributions to the arts, sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations, and public service. He was later knighted in 2015 for his services to drama.
Hurt is known for his gravelly voice and scraggly appearance, and for being one of the kindest men in the business.
On a personal note, I was lucky enough to work with Sir Hurt my junior year at Music/Theatre school. He was a university acquaintance of my professor. He gave us a few lectures and helped us with our production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. One of my biggest inspirations, he was as kind as he was brilliantly talented. It is reported that he has passed on January 27, 2017 from pancreatic cancer. He was 77 years old, a philanthropist, a thespian, and a humanitarian. He will be gravely missed.