Actor John Hurt, who garnered Oscar nominations for his roles in Midnight Express and The Elephant Man, died on Friday.
Hurt was known for playing tortured characters, and died on-screen in Alien, when a creature exploded from his chest. CNN ranked it among the top 10 movie deaths of all time.
Working more than six decades in television, movies and voice work in England and the U.S., he most recently played a priest who counsels Jackie Kennedy in Jackie.
“I’m very much of the opinion that to work is better than not to work. There are others who’d say, ‘No, wait around for the right thing’ – and they will finish up a purer animal than me. … Of course, I don’t do everything by any means: I do turn lots of stuff down, because it’s absolute crap. But I usually find something interesting enough to do.“
I first became aware of Hurt when the rest of the world did. His big break was playing someone I knew quite well, much later. He nailed being Quentin Crisp in the mid-1970s The Naked Civil Servant, which was adapted from Crisp’s autobiography. (Hurt and Quentin remained friends until Quentin’s death.) He played him again in the film, An Englishman in New York and he became the elderly Quentin SO completely, that after 2 minutes, I felt like I was actually visiting with my old friend. Watch below.
Some of his other top television shows were roles in I, Claudius, Watership Down & Doctor Who.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2004 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to Drama.
“I’ve just been whipped along by the waves I’m sitting in. I don’t make plans at all. Plans are what make God laugh. You can make plans, you can make so many plans, but they never go right, do they?“
John Hurt was 77.