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John Vincent Hurt, CBE (born 22 January 1940) is an Englishmarker actor, known for his leading roles in The Elephant Man and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Hurt initially came to prominence for his role as Richard Rich in the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, and has since appeared in such popular motion pictures as: Alien, Midnight Express, Rob Roy, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, V for Vendetta, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Hellboy film series. Hurt is one of England's best-known, most prolific and sought-after actors, and has had a versatile film career spanning five decades. He is also known for his many Shakespearean roles. Hurt has received multiple awards and honours throughout his career including three BAFTA Awards and a Golden Globe, as well as two Academy Award nominations. His character's demise in Alien is generally regarded as one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history.

Early life

Hurt was born in Shirebrookmarker, Derbyshiremarker, the son of Phyllis (née Massey), an amateur actress and engineer, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, a mathematician who became an Anglican clergyman. Hurt has an older brother, Br. Anselm (born Michael), a monk based at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland whose books Hurt has contributed to.. He also has an adopted sister, Monica. His father was a vicar at St John in Sunderlandmarker, but in 1937 he moved his family to Derbyshire, where he became Perpetual Curate of Holy Trinity church. When John was five, his father became the vicar of St Stephens Church at Woodvillemarker in South Derbyshiremarker and remained there until 1952. In 1945 the Reverend Mr. Hurt founded 1st Woodville (St Stephens) Scout Group which is still going strong today.

Hurt had a strict upbringing: the family lived opposite a cinema but he was not allowed to visit. He was also not permitted to mix with local children because in his parents' view they were 'too common'. At the age of eight he was sent to the Anglo-Catholic St Michaels prep school in Sevenoaksmarker, Kentmarker, where he eventually developed his passion for acting. He decided he wanted to become an actor, and his first role was that of a girl in a school production The Bluebird (L'Oiseau Bleu) by Maurice Maeterlinck.

His father moved to St Aidan Church in Cleethorpesmarker, Lincolnshiremarker, and Hurt (then aged 12) became a boarder at Christ's Hospital Schoolmarker (then a grammar school) in Lincolnmarker, because he had failed the entrance exam for admission to his brother's school. Hurt often accompanied his mother to Cleethorpes Repertory Theatre, but his parents disliked his acting ambitions and encouraged him to become an art teacher instead. His headmaster, Mr. Franklin, laughed when Hurt told him he wanted to be an actor, saying "you wouldn't stand a chance in the profession." At the age of 17, Hurt enrolled in Grimsbymarker Art School (now the East Coast School of Art & Design), where he studied art.

In 1959 Hurt won a scholarship allowing him to study for an Art Teachers Diploma (ATD) at Central St. Martins Collegemarker in Holbornmarker, London. Despite the scholarship, paying for his studies was financially difficult and so he persuaded some of his friends to pose nude and sold the portraits. In 1960 however he won a scholarship to RADA where he trained for two years. He was then cast in small roles on TV.


Hurt's first film was 1962's The Wild and the Willing, but his first major role was as Richard Rich in 1966's A Man for All Seasons. However, it was his portrayal of Quentin Crisp in the 1975 TV play, The Naked Civil Servant, that shot him to fame and earned him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. The following year, Hurt played the Roman emperor Caligula in the BBC drama serial, I, Claudius. In 1978, he appeared in Midnight Express, for which he won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (the latter of which he lost to Christopher Walken for his performance in The Deer Hunter). He subsequently developed a successful film career, with his best known roles including Kane, the memorable first victim of the title creature in the film Alien (a role which he reprised as a parody in Spaceballs); would-be art school radical Scrawdyke in Little Malcolm; and "John" Merrick in the Joseph Merrick biography The Elephant Man, for which he won a BAFTA and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actor. He also had a starring role in Sam Peckinpah's critically panned but hugely successful final film, The Osterman Weekend (1983). Also in 1983 he starred as the Fool opposite Laurence Olivier's King in King Lear. Hurt also appeared as Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment in the BBC series of that name in 1980.
Hurt has taken roles in famous political allegories, first playing the hero in an early production and then the tyrannical villain in a later work. For instance, he played Winston Smith in the 1984 adaptation of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and then assumed the role of a Big Brother-esque leader of a fascist Great Britainmarker in the 2006 film V for Vendetta, a movie that drew many parallels to the world of Orwell's 1984. Similarly, Hurt played Hazel, the heroic rabbit leader of his warren in the film adaptation of Watership Down and later played the major villain, General Woundwort, in the animated television series.

In 1986, Hurt provided the voiceover for AIDS: Iceberg / Tombstone, a public information film warning of the dangers of AIDS. He had a memorable supporting role as "Bird" O'Donnell in Jim Sheridan's 1990 film The Field, which garnered him another BAFTA nomination. In 2001, he played Mr. Ollivander, the wand-maker, in the first Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. He returned for the adaption of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. His scenes in that film were cut. In 1999, Hurt provided narration on the British musical group Art of Noise's concept album The Seduction of Claude Debussy. He was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in June 2004. In May 2008, he appeared in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as Harold Oxley. He is also the voice of The Great Dragon, in the BBC television series, Merlin.

In 2008, 33 years after The Naked Civil Servant, Hurt reprised the role of Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York. This film depicts Crisp's later years in New York.

Hurt has stated an interest in returning to his role as Ollivander, the wand-maker, in the last two Harry Potter films.

Personal life

In 1962 Arnould Hurt left his parish in Cleethorpes to become headmaster of St Michaels College in the Central American country of Belizemarker. In that same year Hurt first performed on the London stage, and also married actress Annette Robertson: the marriage ended in 1964. In 1967 he began his longest relationship, with the Frenchmarker model Marie-Lise Volpeliere-Pierrot, the sister of fashion photographer Jean-Claude Volpeliere-Pierrot, whose son Ben would later become a teen idol singing in the pop band Curiosity Killed the Cat.

Hurt's relationship with Marie-Lise was intense and went beyond a casual affair. The couple had planned to get married after fifteen years, when things evolved tragically on 26 January 1983: Hurt and Volpeliere-Pierrot went horseback riding early in the morning near their house in Ascott-under-Wychwoodmarker, Oxfordshire, when suddenly Volpeliere-Pierrot lost her stirrup and was thrown off the horse, landing on her head in the middle of the lane. She went into a coma and died later that day.

Hurt got married for the second time on 6 September 1984 to Texan actress and old friend Donna Peacock at a local Registrar's office. The couple moved to Kenya and tried unsuccessfully to have children through IVF. They divorced in early January 1990.Soon afterwards (on 24 January 1990) Hurt married American production assistant Jo Dalton whom he had met while filming Scandal. With her he had two sons: Sasha John Vincent Hurt (born 6 February 1990) and Nick Hurt (born 5 February 1993), who are currently residing in Waterford, Ireland. His son Nick has gone to acting school in England and wishes to follow in his father's footsteps. This marriage ended in 1996. At one point Hurt was involved with Sarah Owen, twenty years his junior, and with whom he lived in County Wicklowmarker, Irelandmarker. In March 2005, Hurt married his fourth wife, advertising film producer Anwen Rees Meyers.

Hurt's mother died in 1975, and his father died in 1999 at the age of 95.

In January 2002, John Hurt received an honorary degree from the University of Derbymarker and in January 2006 received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Hull.

In 2007, Hurt took part in the BBC genealogical television series Who Do You Think You Are?, which investigated part of his family history. Prior to participating in the programme, Hurt had harboured a love of Irelandmarker and was enamoured of a 'deeply beguiling' family legend that suggested his great-grandmother had been the illegitimate daughter of Irish nobleman the Marquess of Sligo. However the genealogical evidence uncovered seemed to contradict the family legend, rendering the 'suggestion' doubtful. Coincidentally, the search revealed that his great-grandmother had previously lived in Grimsbymarker at a location within a mile of the art college Hurt had once enrolled at. He is distantly related to author Enid Blyton on his father's side.

Since 2006, John Hurt is the patron of Project Harar, a UK-based charity working in Ethiopiamarker for children with facial disfigurements.

Since 2009, John Hurt is the patron of QUAD (a centre for art and film in Derby. On 25 September 2009 Hurt visited QUAD and took part in a Q&A directly preceeding a screening of the film 'The Night Train' as part of the celebrations celebrating the 1st Birthday at QUAD (opened on 26 September 2008). The day after, 26 September, John Hurt was guest of honour at Derby County vs Bristol City and went on the picth at Pride Park at half time to oversee a prize draw.



Year Film Role Notes
1962 The Wild and the Willing Phil
1963 This Is My Street Charlie
1966 A Man for All Seasons Richard Rich
1967 The Sailor from Gibraltar John
1969 In Search of Gregory Daniel
Sinful Davey Davey Haggart
Before Winter Comes Lieutenant Pilkington
1971 Mr. Forbush and the Penguins Richard Forbush
10 Rillington Place Timothy John Evans Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1972 The Pied Piper Franz
1974 Little Malcolm Malcolm Scrawdyke
1975 The Ghoul Tom Rawlings
Linea del fiume, La Chandler
1977 East of Elephant Rock Nash
Three Dangerous Ladies Lt. Simmonds
The Disappearance Atkinson
1978 Watership Down Hazel Voice role
The Shout Anthony Fielding
Midnight Express Max Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Lord of the Rings Aragorn Voice role
1979 Alien Kane Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1980 The Elephant Man John Merrick BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

Heaven's Gate Billy Irvine
1981 Night Crossing Peter Strelzyk
History of the World, Part I Jesus Christ
1982 Partners Kerwin
The Plague Dogs Snitter Voice
1983 The Osterman Weekend Lawrence Fassett
1984 Champions Bob Champion
Success Is the Best Revenge Dino Montecurva
The Hit Braddock
Nineteen Eighty-Four Winston Smith
1985 After Darkness Peter Hunningford
The Black Cauldron The Horned King Voice
1986 Jake Speed Sid
1987 The Hunting of the Snark Narrator Voice
Rocinante Bill
From the Hip Douglas Benoit
Spaceballs Kane
Aria The Actor Segment "I pagliacci"
Vincent Unknown Voice
White Mischief Gilbert Colvile
1988 The Bengali Night Lucien Metz
1989 Scandal Stephen Ward
Little Sweetheart Robert Burger
1990 Romeo-Juliet La Dame aux Chats
Windprints Charles Rutherford
The Field Bird O'Donnell Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Frankenstein Unbound Dr. Joe Buchanan
1991 I Dreamt I Woke Up John Boorman's Alter Ego
King Ralph Lord Percival Graves
1992 Lapse of Memory Conrad Farmer
1993 Kölcsönkapott idö Sean
L'Oeil qui ment Anthony
Le Marquis
Monolith Villano
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues The Countess
1994 Rabbit Ears: Aladdin and the Magic Lamp Storyteller Direct-to-video release
Thumbelina Mr. Mole Voice
Second Best Uncle Turpin
1995 Two Nudes Bathing Marquis de Prey
Saigon Baby Jack Lee
Rob Roy John Graham, Marquis of Montrose
Dead Man John Scholfield
Wild Bill Charley Prince
1997 Tender Loving Care Dr. Turner Interactive CD-ROM film
Love and Death on Long Island Giles De'Ath
Contact S.R. Hadden
Bandyta Babits
1998 The Commissioner James Morton
Night Train Michael Poole
All the Little Animals Mr. Summers
1999 The Climb Chuck Langer
New Blood Alan White
A Monkey's Tale Sebastian English dub of French film Le Château des singes
If... Dog... Rabbit... Sean Cooper
You're Dead... Maitland
2000 The Tigger Movie Narrator Voice
Lost Souls Father Lareaux
2001 Tabloid Vince
Captain Corelli's Mandolin Dr. Iannis
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Mr. Ollivander
2002 Miranda Christian
Crime and Punishment Porfiry
2003 Owning Mahowny Victor Foss
Meeting Che Guevara & the Man from Maybury Hill Man from Maybury Hill
Dogville Narrator Voice
2004 Hellboy Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm
2005 Short Order Felix
Valiant Felix Voice
The Proposition Jellon Lamb Nominated — Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Shooting Dogs Christopher
Manderlay Narrator Voice
The Skeleton Key Ben Devereaux
2006 V for Vendetta Adam Sutler
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Narrator Voice
2007 Boxes Le père de Fanny
2008 The Oxford Murders Arthur Seldom
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Professor Harold Oxley
Hellboy II: The Golden Army Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm Cameo
Lecture 21 Mondrian Kilroy
2009 Outlander Rothgar
The Limits of Control Guitar
New York, I Love You Waiter
An Englishman in New York Quentin Crisp (2009)
44 Inch Chest Old Man Peanut Awaiting release
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I Mr. Ollivander Filming
Tron Legacy TBA Filming
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II Mr. Ollivander Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Drama 61-67 Private Briggs Episode 1.16: "Drama '61: Local Incident"
1962 Z-Cars James Hogan Episode 1.29: "Assault"
1963 First Night Garry Episode 1.12: "Menace"
1964 Armchair Theatre Unknown Episode 4.102: "A Jug of Bread"
Thursday Theatre Orpheus Episode 1.11: "Point of Departure"
1964-1965 ITV Play of the Week Various characters Appeared in three episodes
1965 Gideon's Way Freddy Tinsdale Episode 1.14: "The Tin God"
1973 Wessex Tales Joshua Harlborough Episode 1.3: "A Tragedy of Two Ambitions"
1974 The Playboy of the Western World Christopher "Christy" Mahon TV film
1975 The Naked Civil Servant Quentin Crisp TV film
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1976 Shades of Greene Fred Episode 2.6: "A Drive in the Country"
Play for Today Alec Cassell Episode 6.22: "The Peddler"
The Sweeney Tony Grey Episode 3.4: "Tomorrow Man"
I, Claudius Caligula TV mini-series
1977 Spectre Mitri Cyon TV film
1979 Crime and Punishment Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov TV mini-series
1983 King Lear The Fool TV film
1988 Deadline Granville Jones TV film
The Storyteller The Storyteller Appeared in all nine first series episodes
1990 The Investigation: Inside a Terrorist Bombing Chris Mullin TV film
1991 Journey to Knock Alfred TV film
Red Fox Archie Carpenter TV mini-series
1992 Six Characters in Search of an Author The Father TV film
1993 Great Moments in Aviation Rex Goodyear TV film
1995 Prisoners in Time Eric Lomax TV film
1998 Saturday Night Live March Hare Episode 23.17
1999-2000 Watership Down' General Woundwort Multiple episodes; voice
2001 Krapp's Last Tape Krapp TV film
2002 Bait Jack Blake TV film
2004 The Alan Clark Diaries Alan Clark TV serial
Pride Harry TV film; voice
2005 Hiroshima Narrator Voice
2007 Hellboy: Blood and Iron Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm TV film; voice
Masters of Science Fiction Samswope Episode 1.4: "The Discarded"
2008 Recount Warren Christopher TV film
2008-2009 Merlin (Seasons 1 & 2) The Great Dragon Voice; appeared in 9 episodes; credited for 15
2009 Gruffalo The Owl ?

Video games

Other projects, contributions


  1. John Hurt - Biography
  2. John Hurt Biography (1940-)
  3. The death of Kane (John Hurt) in Alien - Movie Deaths Database
  4. Br. Alselm's cookbook
  6. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Actor Hurt to reprise Crisp role
  7. Who Do You Think You Are? BBC Magazine - About the series

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