John Hurt, Oscar-Nominated Star of ‘The Elephant Man,’ Dies at 77
John Hurt, the esteemed British actor known for his burry voice and weathered visage – one that was kept hidden for his most acclaimed role, that of the deformed John Merrick in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man – has died, according to reports from several British newspapers. He was 77.
The two-time Oscar nominee’s six-decade career also included turns on the BBC’s Doctor Who and in A Man for All Seasons (1966), Midnight Express (1978) and three Harry Potter films.
He announced in June 2015 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
On screens big and small, Hurt died what seemed a thousand deaths. “I think I’ve got the record,” he once said. “It got to a point where my children wouldn’t ask me if I died, but rather how do you die?”
On his YouTube page, a video titled “The Many Deaths of John Hurt” compiled his cinematic demises in 4 minutes and 30 seconds, from The Wild and the Willing (1962) to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), 40 in all.
One of his most memorable came when he played Kane, the first victim in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), in which he collapses over a table and a snakelike alien bursts out of his chest. (How’d they do that? There was an artificial chest screwed to the table, and Hurt was underneath.)
“Ridley didn’t tell the cast,” executive producer Ronald Shusett told Empire magazine in 2009. “He said, ‘They’re just going to see it.’ ”
“The reactions were going to be the most difficult thing,” Scott explained. “If an actor is just acting terrified, you can’t get the genuine look of raw, animal fear. What I wanted was a hardcore reaction.”
Hurt then lampooned the famous torso-busting scene for director Mel Brooks – whose production company produced 1980’s The Elephant Man – for the 1987 comedy Spaceballs.
The Elephant Man received eight … MORE HERE