Oscar award-winning actor William Hurt of Broadcast News and The Incredible Hulk passes away at 71

William Hurt had been nominated for four Oscars over the course of his acting career, earning two best actor nominations for Broadcast News and Children of a Lesser God

author_img Team Indulge Published :  14th March 2022 04:15 PM   |   Published :   |  14th March 2022 04:15 PM
William Hurt passes away at 71 due to natural causes

William Hurt passes away at 71 due to natural causes

Actor William Hurt — who became popular in the ’80s after winning an Oscar for The Kiss of the Spider Woman and who is known as the Marvel character Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross in The Incredible Hulk, has passed away. He was 71.

His friend, Gerry Byrne confirmed the news to media sources on Monday morning. His son Will said in a statement, “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 (sic).”
William Hurt had been nominated for four Oscars over the course of his acting career, earning two best actor nominations for Broadcast News and Children of a Lesser God and a supporting actor nod for his impressive performance during the less than 10 minutes of screen time in A History of Violence.
He was one of the most heralded performers of the 1980s, becoming something of a sex symbol and a reluctant, albeit bankable, movie star. Hurt later transitioned into character roles in the 1990s and successfully alternated between big screen projects and television, scoring Emmy nominations for his role as a whistleblower in Damages and his portrayal of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in Too Big to Fail.
More recently, Hurt became well known to a younger generation of movie lovers with his portrayal of the no-nonsense General Thaddeus Ross in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.

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He later reprised the role in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow.
Hurt was born on March 20, 1950 in Washington, DC. His mother, Claire Isabel, worked at Time Inc., and his father Alfred Hurt (1910-1996) was a career bureaucrat, working for the United States Agency for International Development and the State Department.
His parents separated when he was six years old, and his mother remarried Henry Luce III, son of Time Magazine publisher Henry Luce.
Raised in relative privilege, Hurt went on to attend Tufts University, where he studied theology, before moving to Juilliard to study acting. After appearing on stage, Hurt secured a lead role in Altered States, playing a troubled scientist in Ken Russell’s offbeat film, a notable entry in the body horror genre.
A year later, Hurt achieved a new level of prominence, appearing opposite Kathleen Turner in Body Heat, a steamy noir that updated the kind of treachery and double-crossing seen in the likes of The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity with a bracing sexuality. It transformed both performers, who positively ignited on screen, into major stars.
Hurt followed that with another lead role in Gorky Park and was part of the ensemble of The Big Chill, a drama about a group of friends reuniting that became a touchstone for the baby boomer generation.
That was all a lead up to one of the most stunning periods of dominance ever enjoyed by a movie star. From 1986 to 1988, Hurt was nominated for three consecutive best actor Oscars, winning for his portrayal of a gay window dresser in Hector Babenco’s The Kiss of the Spider Woman.
His Oscar-nominated work in Children of a Lesser God and Broadcast News, playing a teacher at a school for the deaf and an affable, slightly dim-witted newsman respectively, showcased his range. The commercial and critical success of those films rocketed Hurt to the A-list.
However, the actor did not appear to prefer the celebrity life very much. He was quoted as saying during an interview in 1983 with a popular media house, “It’s not right that my privacy is invaded to the extent that it is. I’m a very private man, and I have the right to be. I never said that because I was an actor you can have my privacy, you can steal my soul. You can’t (sic).”

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Later, during the course of his career, Hurt turned down some major movies, including Jurassic Park and Misery. His time in the spotlight also coincided with a period of personal trouble for the actor, one in which he struggled with drugs and alcohol.
“I was utterly miserable and, finally, I had been miserable enough, long enough, and I said, ‘I’m finished, I can’t hack it, can’t do it’ (sic),” Hurt told media sources in 1989, recalling how he felt before he went to rehab.
His relationship with Marlee Matlin, his co-star in Children of a Lesser God, was also troubled. Matlin later wrote in a memoir that Hurt was allegedly emotionally and physically abusive to her. Indulge could not verify this independently.
In a statement back then, media reports said Hurt had conveyed through a spokesperson: “My own recollection is that we both apologised and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologise for any pain I caused. And I know we have both grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good (sic).”
Hurt was married to the actress Mary Beth Hurt from 1971 to 1982 and later to Heidi Henderson from 1989 to 1991.
The 1990s proved to be a less fruitful time for Hurt professionally. He received critical acclaim for his work in The Doctor as an arrogant surgeon who undergoes a change-of-heart after experiencing health struggles, but other films such as Second Chances and Until the End of the World failed to generate much attention.
His next film, a rare attempt at popcorn entertainment with 1998’s big-screen adaptation of Lost in Space was a modest hit, but didn’t earn enough money to spawn a franchise.
He also appeared in the TV mini-series version of Dune, in Steven Spielberg’s AI Artificial Intelligence and in M Night Shyamalan’s The Village.
Hurt later appeared to settle for supporting roles, scoring scenery-stealing turns as an urbane spy in The Good Shepherd, a demanding father in Into the Wild, and, most memorably, as a sinister mob boss in A History of Violence.
His role in A History of Violence, in which he admits to his hitman brother that “when mom brought you home from the hospital, I tried to strangle you in your crib”, was a master class in doing a lot with very little screen time.
William Hurt is survived by his sons Will, Samuel, Alexander and daughter Jeanne.

(*With inputs from IANS)