The Essentials: Sir John Hurt

In our lifetimes, we see the birth and deaths of many a legendary career on the silver screen. 2016 was a particularly brutal year for film fans who saw the loss of many a brilliant film star including Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. 2017 has already claimed many prominent names already. This one hit us like a massive weight. The versatile and talented actor John Hurt has passed away at the age of 77. His multi-decade career is full of brilliant performances from a variety of films, television shows, theatre productions and more!

Here is a list of recommended movies to watch.

Honourable Mentions  1984, 10 Rillington Place, Doctor Who, and the recent biopic Jackie 

Alien (1979)

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One of the earliest film roles, Hurt played Executive Officer Kane of the space merchant vessel Nostromo that has to make an emergency landing on a mysterious planet. Kane’s time on the ship comes to a gory end when the alien he was infected with burst forth from his chest, killing him. Even in his youth, Hurt’s acting talent is ever present in his performance but it is only a mere glimmer of what to come.

V For Vendetta (2005)

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The film adaptation of the comic of the same name, this is the story of a mysterious freedom fighter in the midst of a dystopian, tyrannical future Britain. Hurt plays the overlord figure High Chancellor Adam Sutler, a character that is a stark opposite to his role in 1984. His portrayal of the grumpy, authoritarian man so corrupted he’s brainwashed himself of his own grandeur. Hurt embodies this malice and hypocrisy greatly.

Watership Down (1978)

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A list of John Hurt performances would not be complete without mentioning the animated adaptation of Richard Adams’s book Watership Down. A film that sees a warren of rabbits try to establish their own colony, Hurt voiced the young Hazel who matures and grows as the quest for freedom continues for his warren.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

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In this film adaptation of the television series, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an espionage drama set during the Cold War. Hurt plays Control, the former head of Mi5 who resigned after the failure of a mission in Budapest. Hurt beautifully plays the tragic and frail man who had lost far more than his career. His chemistry with co-star Gary Oldman is spectacular to see on the screen and worth the watch on its own.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

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A role that is one of his best known in the millennial generation, Hurt’s turn as the wand-maker Garrick Olivander who sold Harry Potter his wand as he shops for his Hogwarts supplies. Hurt comes up again in his role but its his scene with the young and inexperienced wizard that is the most memorable. This worldly wise wizard is performed perfectly by a matured and seasoned actor.


Rest in Peace John Hurt

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