John Hurt had a surprising sort of career. Of course, you knew he was in a lot of films–a lot of great films–but you had no idea how many until you sit down and take a look at all of them. John Hurt died today after a lengthy battle with Pancreatic cancer. He was 77.
Hurt got his start in the 1962 film Young and Willing (also known as The Wild and the Willing) and just four years later, he got his first major role as Richard Rich in 1966’s A Man For All Seasons. His career continued to gain steam, culminating in 1978 when he was cast as Max in Midnight Express. His performance in this film would garner him his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (he’s lose the award to Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter) and a victory in the same category at that year’s Golden Globes.
The next year, Hurt would appear in Alien as Kane, the first crewman to die a grisly death at the hands of the xenomorph. Then, in 1980, he would appear in the most notable film role, that of John Merrick in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. The role would earn him his second and final Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor and his second and final Golden Globe nomination in the same category (losing on both occasions to Robert DeNiro for his performance as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull). He would take home the BAFTA for Best Actor for the role.
After his best actor nomination, Hurt entered his most prolific years of his career. He would make close to 100 films during this time, not counting work in television, averaging just under 4 films per year. He would work twice more with his The Elephant Man producer Mel Brooks, first in 1981’s History of the World, Part 1 and in a cameo recreating his infamous scene from Alien in 1987’s Spaceballs. He would play the victim of Big Brother’s oppression in 1984 and a Big Brother surrogate in 2005’s V for Vendetta. He also played Professor Broom in the Hellboy franchise and Mr. Ollivander. He was as at home in broad comedies like Partners and King Ralph as he was in thrillers such as The Osterman Weekend and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Hurt was last seen in last year’s Jackie playing a priest. His final acting role will be playing Neville Chamberlain to his Harry Potter and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy co-star Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, set to be released on November 24, 2017.