Actor John Hurt of 'Alien' and Many More Dies at 77
Hurt was perhaps most well remembered for his role as Kane in Ridley Scott's Alien, who was the centerpiece in the film's iconic "chest-bursting" scene where the baby Xenomorph makes a bloody escape from his stomach. Contributing to the terror of the scene was that only Hurt knew what would happen when the cameras started rolling; the script said nothing but a cryptic "This thing emerges," and Sigourney Weaver and the other actors gave genuine reactions when the alien popped out from Hurt and splattered them with fake blood. Hurt later returned to parody this scene in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs, saying only "Oh no, not again" as a singing alien jumped out.
Hurt has been all over film and television in the years following. He played Ollivander the wand maker in several Harry Potter films, the gruff War Doctor in Doctor Who, and the rebellious Winston Smith in the film version of 1984. His biggest starring role was the deformed hero John Merrick of The Elephant Man in 1980, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. Along with very many smaller but memorable roles, like the fatherly Professor Broom in Hellboy, the fascist dictator Adam Sutler in V for Vendetta, and "Control" in Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy.
John Hurt. Too many iconic performances to name. From Timothy Evans to John Merrick, from Midnight Express to Alien, he was inspirational. pic.twitter.com/qOQuj35Xlf— edgarwright (@edgarwright) January 28, 2017
Hurt kept a sense of humor over how often his characters tended to be killed off, and one of the few videos he uploaded to his official YouTube channel was "The Many Deaths of John Hurt," which combined 40 deaths scenes he'd performed over 50 years. His half-century career spans over 200 roles between film and television.
He is survived by his wife, Anwen Rees-Myers and his sons Alexander and Nicholas. His wife said the following in a statement to Variety.
It was terribly sad today to learn of John Hurt's passing. He was a truly magnificent talent.— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) January 28, 2017