William Hurt, Oscar-winning actor of the 1980s, dies at 71
In recent years, he had worked more in television, notably in the FX series “Damages” and the British sci-fi drama “Humans”. He was also in the 2013 TV movie “The Challenger Disaster”, which in a 2015 interview prompted The Guardian to ask him if he was interested in space travel.
“I’m interested in all walks of life and what’s on the other side,” he says. “We know less about the ocean than about space. I like to swim, float and fly.
William McChord Hurt was born on March 20, 1950, in Washington, DC, the son of Alfred Hurt, a career diplomat, and Claire Isabel (McGill) Hurt, who worked at Time Inc. When Bill was 6 years old, his parents separated and his mother married Henry Luce III, the son of the founder of Time magazine.
Mr. Hurt attended Tufts University and later studied acting at Juilliard. In the second half of the 1970s, he made a name for himself on New York stages, notably appearing in Lanford Wilson’s play “Fifth of July” at the Circle Rep in 1978. In 1981, Frank Rich, seeing “Child Byron” again at the Circle Rep for The Times singled him out.
“Maybe William Hurt has now been discovered by Hollywood (‘Altered States’, ‘Eyewitness’), but he hasn’t lost any of that crazy intensity that makes him a pleasure to watch in the theater,” the post began. review by Mr. Rich. “What makes this talented actor so special – and, inevitably, a star – is his ability to create his own reality on stage. Although he can create a powerful character whenever he wants (as he did starring Kenneth Talley in the original production of “Fifth of July”), he’s ready to be mesmerizing without the help of a playwright.
While his playing drew praise, Mr. Hurt’s personal life was difficult. He had a relationship with his “Children of a Lesser God” co-star, Marlee Matlin, which she later described as abusive. A long-term relationship with Sandra Jennings, a dancer, landed in court in 1989, with Ms Jennings claiming, unsuccessfully, that they were in fact married. His marriages to Mary Beth Hurt and Heidi Henderson ended in divorce.