Beloved actor Sir John Hurt tragically passed away over the weekend. The actor, aged 77, had been battling pancreatic cancer since his diagnosis in June of 2015.
Boasting one of the most varied and impressive CVs of any British actor, John Hurt’s career began with a strong supporting role in the Oscar-winning A Man For All Seasons, after which he came to prominence with British television audiences for starring as Quentin Crisp in 1975’s The Naked Civil Servant, which was followed up by a performance as Caligula in I, Claudius. From there Hurt’s career went from strength to strength, playing the title role of The Elephant Man, playing the lead character of Winston Smith in the film version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and making an appearance in the lauded Midnight Express. Ever since, Hurt has been a fixture on the British stage, where his interpretations of Beckett material have been heralded as definitive, while making room for supporting work in such grandiose British and American productions as Hellboy, V for Vendetta, the Harry Potter series, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the title character of Doctor Who in two special episodes. One particularly notorious scene from his career is the memorably grisly death sequence from the sci-fi classic Alien, in which a “Chestburster” explodes from his body, a sequence he would later go on to self-parody in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs.
However, even after all of these iconic films, the press are already referring to That Good Night as the final jewel in Hurt’s crown: “after more than 120 films, it was his very final role as a dying man in That Good Night which was the most remarkable of all”, writes Michael Thornton in the Daily Mail, “The title comes from the lines of a Dylan Thomas poem: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night . . . Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ John Hurt did not rage about his impending death. He accepted it calmly, just as he had always lived his life with an extraordinary kind of fatalism.”
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