John Hurt dead: The screen icon's most memorable roles from Midnight Express to Nineteen Eighty-Four

Remembering the acting great who has passed away at the age of 77

Jacob Stolworthy@Jacob_Stol
Saturday 28 January 2017 17:53
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John Hurt's eight most iconic roles

John Hurt's illustrious career spanned six decades throughout which he turned in well over 140 performances across stage and screen.

To narrow down his best work is an impossible task so we've not tried to do so - instead, we've plucked out eight of the actor's most diverse, iconic roles ranging from his memorable portrayal of British writer Quentin Crisp through to Harry Potter wandmaker, Mr. Ollivander.

One thing's for certain - the world has lost one of its acting greats. Here we remember the legacy he leaves behind.

A Man for All Seasons (1966)

It was a performance on stage which saw High Noon filmmaker Fred Zinnerman cast Hurt in this Oscar-winning adaptation of Robert Bolt's play. Hurt's appearance as Richard Rich is one of his earliest screen roles.

The Naked Civil Servant (1975)

The first of two times Hurt played Quentin Crisp (he reprised the role in 2009's An Englishman in New York), this biographical adaptation saw the actor pick up a BAFTA for his portrayal of the flamboyant raconteur who made the bold choice of exhibiting his homosexuality in the conservative constraints of England in the 30s.

Midnight Express (1978)

Hurt's first Oscar nomination came with Alan Parker's prison drama Midnight Express, in which Hurt played a small yet memorable role as a British heroin addict. he got beat in the Supporting Acting category by Christopher Walken's role in The Deer Hunter.

Alien (1979)

It speaks volumes that Hurt stepped in to play doomed Nostromo crew member Kane the day before the now-iconic 'chestburster' scene was due to be filmed. Would it have endured as such without him? In Hurt's case, it's easy to assume otherwise.

The Elephant Man (1980)

Hurt's work as John Merrick in The Elephant Man saw him earn a second Oscar nomination (he lost to Robert De Niro for Raging Bull) as well as the accolade of David Lynch naming him “simply the greatest actor in the world.”

Champions (1984)

Hurt turned in a touching performance as real-life jockey Bob Champion who, after recovering from testicular cancer, went on to win the 1981 Grand National.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

The only adaptation of George Orwell's novel worth seeing thrust Hurt front and centre as protagonist Winston Smith, a man residing in a squalid dystopia who sparks a rebellion against the totalitarian figure known as Big Brother

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

Hurt starred in an array of genre projects in the latter stages of his career - Hellboy, Snowpiercer, Doctor Who - but it's perhaps Harry Potter that a younger generation will know him by, in which he played the kindly wandmaker Mr. Ollivander.

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