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William Hurt

FULL NAME William Hurt
BORN 20 March 1950, Washington, DC, USA
ASSOCIATION Actor (producer)
NATIONALITY American
HEIGHT 188 cm
REVIEWED ENTRIES 28 (26)
MAX. RATING

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MIN. RATING

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AVERAGE RATING 3.92
STRENGTHS
  • Aloof delve into character
  • Ability to convey constrained emotion

 

FILMOGRAPHY (ONLY REVIEWED ENTRIES)

YEAR TITLE ROLE RATING
1980 Altered States Prof. Eddie Jessup

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1981 Body Heat Ned Racine

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1981 Eyewitness Darryl Deever

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1983 The Big Chill Nick

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1983 Gorky Park Arkady Renko

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1985 Kiss of the Spider Woman Luis Molina

1986 Children of a Lesser God James Leeds

1987 Broadcast News Tom Grunick

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1988 The Accidental Tourist Macon Leary

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1990 I Love You to Death Harlan James

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1991 Until the End of the World Trevor/Sam

1995 Smoke Paul Benjamin

1998 Dark City Inspector Frank Bumstead

1998 One True Thing George Gulden

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1999 The 4th Floor Greg Harrison

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2001 AI: Artificial Intelligence Prof. Allen Hobby
2004 The Village Edmund Walker

2005 The King Pastor David Sandow

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2005 A History of Violence Richie Cusack

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2005 Syriana Stan
2007 Mr. Brooks Marshall

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2007 Into the Wild Walt McCandless

2008 Vantage Point President Ashton

2008 The Yellow Handkerchief Brett Hanson

2008 The Incredible Hulk Gen. Thaddeus Ross

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2010 Robin Hood William Marshal

2011 Too Big to Fail (TV) Henry Paulson (Sec. of the Treasury)

2013 The Challenger (TV) Dr. Richard Feynman

 

PORTRAIT

I came late to William Hurt, probably for the simple reason that he isn't the actor children encounter most rapidly. Always seeking the serious, thematically interesting, and often intellectual roles, Hurt has throughout his career gained a reputation for being perhaps overly professional and serious - something that fits good with his 'waspy' appearance. But underneath the seemingly unaccessible shell is a charming and life-loving performer who boasts great sense of humour - often sarcastic and ironic.

Getting into movies quite late, Hurt enjoyed an almost unbelievably successfull decade in the 1980s, first breaking through with his debut performance in Altered States, before going on to leading roles in back-to-back critical and commercial successes. From 1985 through 1987, he was Oscar-nominated for best lead in three consecutive years. The first of these, for Kiss of the Spider Woman, earned him best actor awards from nearly every award ceremony on the planet, including BAFTA, Cannes and David di Donatello in addition to the Oscars. He has constantly collaborated with Lawrence Kasdan who first cast Hurt in Kasdan's directorial debut Body Heat, and then went on to direct another three films starring William Hurt.

Approaching the mid to late 90s, Hurt struggled to find equally challenging roles, and rarely leads. His brief position as a sex symbol was over, and he had to focus on character roles in supporting bits. In 2005, however, he was back at his very best and also back at the Oscars with his 10-minute bravura performance in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence.

William Hurt has never given directing or writing a shot, and he has always kept a low profile in the public. He is known for being quite outspoken and philosophical, but despite being labelled a classic intellectual, some of his best performances have come with quite different characters (as in Body Heat), showing his versatility and ability, and perhaps suggesting that William Hurt, all in all, hasn't been given as many good roles as he should've been.

 

TRIVIA

  • He and co-star Marlee Matlin started a three-year relationship while preparing for the filming of Children of a Lesser God. Hurt was then 35 and the deaf Matlin was 19.

 

AWARDS

The Academy Awards (Oscars)

1985

Best Actor for Kiss of the Spider Woman

1986

Nominated for Best Actor for Children of a Lesser God

1987

Nominated for Best Actor for Broadcast News

 

WHAT DO THE CRITICS SAY?

Altered States (1980)

"(...) and Hurt, making his movie début, brings a cool, quivering untrustworthiness to his revved-up mad-scientist role" - Pauline Kael

The Accidental Tourist (1988)

"Hurt gives an exquisite performance as a man shattered by the death of his son (...)." - Pauline Kael

"What Hurt achieves here is almost impossible: He's depressed, low-key, and intensely private through most of the movie, and yet somehow he wins our sympathy." - Roger Ebert

 

CHARACTER QUOTES

Body Heat (1981)

Matty (Kathleen Turner): "You aren't too smart. I like that in a man."
Ned (William Hurt): "What else do you like? Lazy? Ugly? Horny? I got'em all." 
Matty (Kathleen Turner): "You don't look lazy."