William Hurt Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (29)  | Personal Quotes (27)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Died in Portland, Oregon, USA  (prostate cancer)
Birth NameWilliam McChord Hurt
Nickname Bill
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

William McChord Hurt was born in Washington, D.C., to Claire Isabel (McGill) and Alfred McChord Hurt, who worked at the State Department. He was trained at Tufts University and The Juilliard School and has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including the most recent nomination for his supporting role in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence (2005). Hurt received Best Supporting Actor accolades for the role from the Los Angeles Film Critics circle and the New York Film Critics Circle.

Hurt spent the early years of his career on the stage between drama school, summer stock, regional repertory and off-Broadway, appearing in more than fifty productions including "Henry V", "5th of July", "Hamlet", "Uncle Vanya", "Richard II", "Hurlyburly" (for which he was nominated for a Tony Award), "My Life" (winning an Obie Award for Best Actor), "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" and "Good". For radio, Hurt read Paul Theroux's "The Grand Railway Bazaar", for the BBC Radio Four and "The Shipping News" by Annie Proulx. He has recorded "The Polar Express", "The Boy Who Drew Cats", "The Sun Also Rises" and narrated the documentaries, "Searching for America: The Odyssey of John Dos Passos", "Einstein-How I See the World" and the English narration of Elie Wiesel's "To Speak the Unspeakable", a documentary directed and produced by Pierre Marmiesse. In 1988, Hurt was awarded the first Spencer Tracy Award from UCLA.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: W. Deal

Family (3)

Spouse Heidi Henderson (5 March 1989 - 1 August 1993)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Mary Beth Hurt (2 December 1971 - 9 December 1982)  (divorced)
Children Jeanne Bonnaire-Hurt
Samuel Hurt
William Hurt
Alex Hurt
Parents Claire Isabel Hurt (McGill)
Alfred McChord Hurt

Trade Mark (2)

Slow mannered style of delivery
Deep mellow voice

Trivia (29)

His ex-wife, Heidi, is the daughter of famous The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) trumpeter and bandleader Skitch Henderson.
He lived with Sandra Jennings from 1981 to 1984.
Lived in Oregon with two of his sons, William Jr. and Sam, where he died on 13 March 2022. (The boys' mother is Heidi Henderson.).
Turned down the role played by Sam Neill in Jurassic Park (1993).
He is the son of Claire Isabel (McGill) and Alfred McChord Hurt, who worked in the state department. His stepfather, Henry Luce III, was the son of Time magazine founder Henry Luce.
Recipient of the first Spencer Tracy Award in 1988 for outstanding screen performances.
He was an avid private pilot with taildragger experience.
Turned down the lead role of Paul Sheldon in Misery (1990).
Spoke French fluently.
Had four children: son Alex Hurt (born 1983) with Sandra Jennings, sons Samuel Hurt (born August 7, 1989) and William Hurt Jr. (born 1991) with ex-wife Heidi Henderson, and daughter Jeanne Bonnaire-Hurt (born February 1, 1994) with Sandrine Bonnaire.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1985 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) for David Rabe's Hurlyburly.
On May 25, 2005, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts by Tufts University.
Godfather of actress Meghan Glennon.
Lived with Children of a Lesser God (1986) actress Marlee Matlin for some years in the 1980s.
Made his stage debut in "Henry V" in 1977 for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Was the uncle of Oliver Hurt.
Went to the Middlesex School; graduated 10 years before Steve Carell.
He waived his salary for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) so the film could be made within its budget.
Studied acting with Michael Howard in New York City.
Acted in five Best Picture nominees in the 1980s: The Big Chill (1983), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Children of a Lesser God (1986), Broadcast News (1987), and The Accidental Tourist (1988). He was nominated for Best Actor in three of them in consecutive years from 1985 to 1987: Kiss of the Spider Woman (which he won), Children of a Lesser God, and Broadcast News.
Was a big fan of the comic book character the Incredible Hulk and got to play the Hulk's enemy Thaddeus Ross in the 2008 adaption.
He had English as well as German, Scottish, and Irish ancestry.
He had a role in the since-suspended Gregg Allman biopic, Midnight Rider. Production was halted when one crew member was killed and seven others were injured when hit by a freight train on the first day of filming.
He worked with four directors who have won a Best Director Oscar: James L. Brooks, Woody Allen, Anthony Minghella, and Steven Spielberg.
Reader on the audiobook of Paul Theroux's "The Great Railway Bazaar".
He was the first actor ever to receive an Oscar nomination for a performance in a comic book adaptation, which he received for A History of Violence (2005).
No relation to Sir John Hurt (Alien (1979), The Elephant Man (1980)), despite a popular misconception.
He has appeared in one film that has been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Broadcast News (1987).
A South African actor/actress stated on the internet about a meeting with Hurt on a movie set: "My privileged encounter with an incredible actor. During the filming of The Challenger Disaster (2013), I had rare opportunity to be in a few scenes with William Hurt. We were all exceptionally nervous having to work alongside him. We are told to never get into the lead actors' personal space, only speak if they speak first and try not to look at them unless the scene requires it. The first day he arrived on set there was a discernible awkwardness in the air. He sat in a dark corner by himself between shots, and nobody spoke to him. He ate separately and went back to his hotel every night alone. He portrayed a man who was troubled and isolated. About the third day I had to do a scene with him where we came bursting through the glass double doors to interrupt a gathering that was in progress. To prepare for the "grand entrance" we had to wait outside in the stairwell for our cue. It was incredibly awkward. He looked miserable and depressed and wouldn't even look at me. A little sparrow that had flown in and could not get out started to flap around us. William Hurt uttered a loud sigh, his shoulders dropped, and he began talking to himself in a mournful sorrowful soft voice. He was saying "Poor little sparrow you're trapped. Nobody respects or loves you. You're just like me. You will most probably die soon just like me." I was really distressed as I was standing right next to him, and we were alone. I remembered all the warnings they gave us about not speaking to the celebrities, but I began to feel pity. He looked quite broken, and I could not know what personal burdens he was bearing. I decided to take a chance and explained that sparrows often fly into buildings, but they normally manage to fly out eventually. He just carried on in a mournful voice to say he was not well. He said people didn't like him and he felt trapped like the little bird. "No sir," I pleaded, "many people like and admire you. You are a brilliant actor." "No, I'm not," he said, "and I'm going to die soon." That shocked me, but then then we heard the director shout "action" and we rushed through the doors for the first of many takes. We ended the scene without me having a chance to continue our conversation. I went home with a very heavy heart that this famous actor who had achieved so much actually bared his soul to me. I spoke to Elise about this when I got home. He had sounded suicidal, and I was feeling helpless. Elise straight away said it had been a cry for help. She said it was my calling and duty to counsel him and maybe our paths had crossed for this very purpose. I never had another chance to get close to him alone, but every day I kept a prayerful eye on him and even considered asking the director for help (and maybe risk being banned from the movie). The final scene was shot in the Emmarentia Rose Garden, which was made to look like the gardens outside the White House. As the last scene was finished, the director shouted, "Cut, that's a wrap." A strange metamorphosis occurred. William Hurt suddenly put his head upright, straightened his shoulders, took his tie off and smilingly beckoned me to approach him. This I did with some apprehension, but he extended his hand looked me straight in the eye and explained that he is what is called a "method actor." He assumes his character's personality long before the first day of shooting and never gets out of character until the final wrap. He warmly thanked me for my contribution. I left with a strange feeling of relief and happiness. He had remembered my faltering words and was pleased. It was quite a shock to read last night .... "It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of William Hurt, beloved father and Oscar winning actor, on March 13, 2022, one week before his 72nd birthday. He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes.".

Personal Quotes (27)

I'm still not comfortable with all this. I'm not comfortable with walking the red carpet in a tuxedo and seeing all the women with their boobs pushed up and all the men dressed as penguins - particularly when the subject of your film is the nature of violence and humanity. But that's the nature of Cannes. That's the process that we are both dealing with today.
The simple fact of existence, of being aware that you are aware; this to me is the most astounding fact. And I think that it has something to do with dying. When you are a kid you are beset by fears and you think, 'I'll solve the fear by living for ever and becoming a movie star.' But I am not going to live for ever. And the more I know it, the more amazed I am by being here at all. I am so thrilled by the privilege of life, and yet at the same time I know that I have to let it go.
[on drinking] This is a big subject. And I don't want to use my troubles as an example of what to do and what not to do. But there's that old credo, in vino veritas. In wine lies truth. And a lot of people believe that. But one day you wake up and say, 'This is stupid and this is wrong.' And it was wrong, so I did something about it. It's a complete myth that living life on the edge is conducive to great acting. But it's also another myth to think that you should be as tight as a drum and not have any frailties or fragilities. So you have to find that balance. All I know is that my best work has come out of being committed and happy.
A lot of people are taking those risks on the basis of something so unconsidered that it's completely capricious. That's one of the reasons why actors are not respected anymore as actors.
I am not an actor. I'm just a man who likes acting. I am what I am. I am nobody. I don't exist. But the work exists. The work is more than the actor.
I am a character actor in a leading man's body.
I am not a star, I am an actor.
[on being taken hostage in Brazil while filming Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] - We had 36 hours off from filming and me and my date at the time get into a car and we drove south to a village where her parents had a small villa in a very modest town with dirt streets. And as we drove into the driveway at midnight a car pulled up behind us and blocked our exit. The engine of that car was turned off. There were four people in it: two men and two women. One of the men had a ski mask on ... . The one man leaned out the window and he said to us in Portuguese and I asked my date what he said, and she turned white. She said "He wants directions. So she knew right away. And after that the doors of the car opened and they both got out with guns. [Hurt and his date were let go some hours later.]
[on playing a drag queen in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] - I didn't play him as gay. I played him as a woman ... the key for me as an artist, I was researching the character - I had a wonderful dance teacher who was helping me try to figure out how to move, because every character has different movement .... And I spent time ... in gay bars and trying to soak that up too - I'm not gay myself, but many of my friends are - and I wasn't getting it. There was something that wasn't working. And I was walking in the street one day and I was looking at a woman who was walking ahead of us, and I said "I don't think Molina's gay. I think he's a woman. I think he really is a woman, he's just caught in a man's body." Like sometimes I'm an actor caught in a movie star's body.
[on getting into his supporting role as the final-act villain in A History of Violence (2005)] - David [Cronenberg] was so kind with with me. I arrived 10 days early. I filmed only for a couple days. I'm of the belief 'There are no small roles. Only small actors.' ... The so-called main characters? What's that? We're all main characters. We're all main characters in our lives.
[accepting his Best Actor Oscar for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] I share this with Raul (Julia).
Film is not the innate art, theatre is. If all the film in the world burnt down today, you'd still have acting.
[2010] I am a repertory ensemble actor. I'm the luckiest person I know as far as my vocation is concerned; I can't imagine being happier or more fulfilled as an artist than I've been allowed to be. I have struggled - I struggle mightily. But I'm lucky enough to be allowed to struggle - that's something I appreciate. Especially as you get older and you know the days are dwindling.
Nothing came fast for me. I had done sixty plays before I did a movie. I took it slow - I wanted it to be deep, didn't want it to be superficial so I slowed down instead of speeding up.
You can go anywhere with someone who admits what they don't know, but if they don't have that basic courage to say, "Well, I don't know, I'm not sure, what do you think?" it doesn't mean you can't get it done, it doesn't mean you cry and go "boo hoo" and sit in a puddle on the ground. You still have to solve the problem and do the best you can. You got a time limit, you got a money limit. You don't have a love limit.
[on Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] It was written by a saint. I met that guy. A living saint. He was dying of AIDS when I met him. An angel on this planet. I met a few. Manuel Puig, amazing man. How good a film is it? It's a little slow. It's a good film.
[on winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1986] There's always a part of you that wants to be, you know, the so-called best. But when you're a human being you know that doesn't exist any more. [...] And I went up onstage and Sally Field whom I knew very well, because we'd done a play together which was broadcast live, she brings it over, and I said to her, "Sally" - this is the words I said to her, onstage, she put it in my hand and I said, "Sally, what the hell do I do with this?" She looked at me hard because she knew me - she was a wonderful woman - and she looked back and she said, "You live with it," which was a wonderful response. So I held it, I walked over, and I started living with it.
Acting is building the tip of the iceberg, you have to build what isn't seen and then play the tip. Only a little bit of the iceberg is ever seen, but it is massive. That's sometimes hard to do in American movies, where the philosophy is to show the whole iceberg. We're not used to having passive heroes, we're used to the active, go get 'em guy. [...] I oppose this idea that we have to vicariously live in the images of movie heroes who always know what's going to happen next. That's just not how life is. What's wrong with heroism being a man who has traveled 2 inches? That 2 inches is very profound. The real heroes are people who walk and talk in streets and in homes and in the air. Why is it that in the movies we have to spend so much time escaping rather than being freed by accepting?
When they gave me the Academy Award that night I was tremendously conflicted. I thought I was going to get away with it, I thought I was going to put on my penguin suit and have a couple of drinks and go and look at the other salivating guys in the penguin suits and I was going to watch them like you study a character. When they called my name out I really thought, "Oh no no no no, don't put that target on my chest, don't do this."
[on roles] It's always different. It's like you're always wearing a mask. It's what mask you're wearing. Which one are you using? The more complete your mask is, whether it's in flagrante delicto or subtle, the more complete it is in its psychology, the more you see the soul of your own being. That's what masks are for. The key to the mask is that if the mask that you make proves your value, proves that you have been attentive to a human being, then through those dark holes you're in there. That's what you want. You want to share that. You want to be in there with others. And that's a feeling that I can't describe. I have to do it. I have been there. I have done it. I have participated in moments when that was reached and it is a prize without price. It cannot be quantified. It is a state which is so wonderful, so useful, that you cannot sell that, you cannot buy that cheap. It's there. It's among, not about. And that's why you do it. That's why I do it. There's all kind so accoutrements that people are going to judge things by, but that's really got nothing to do with it.
[on winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1986] Every award is a standard bearer. But the night that I got mine was also the night they gave one to the producer of 007 for selling more theatre tickets than anybody ever sold. So OK I'm going, "Is this the same statue, is this the same golden dildo they ram down your throat to make sure you never work unconditionally again?"
The enemies of acting are mood, and attitude, and other general homogenized disruptive entities. Whereas acting is about action -- doing -- and unless you can figure out a way to craft in an imaginative reality to which you don't submit, you're going to be out of control. You'll flip out. The job is to be surprised.
A lot of what we do as actors now, it simply isn't acting. Because you can't get a script at 11 o'clock at night and shoot at 9 o'clock the next morning and call that acting. You can call that being well-used by a director. You can call it being a wonderful reflection of what your teachers instilled in you over the years and years of hopeful study. But you can't call it personal participation in the work. You can call it showing up in terror.
[on Altered States (1980)] I was jumping out of my skin because Paddy Chayefsky was articulating ideas that were so far ahead of their time. Molecular biology and quantum physics, the sources of altruism, the notion of love over truth. I had been thinking about the beginnings of our current situation, intellectual property in bio-engineering, I had been thinking about computers and all that. And then I read this script and I was in a Cuban coffee shop up on 78th and Amsterdam and I couldn't stop reading it and I couldn't stop weeping for about half an hour and I couldn't stand up for 45 minutes because it was every idea that I had been thinking about. Everything was in this thing.
Body Heat (1981) was the best structured film I ever read. It was a better structure than Altered States (1980). But I spent the first six hours of my life with Larry Kasdan telling him why he couldn't direct it. He didn't know what he had. It was a gem, pure and simple. He listened. Because I was the only person that was honest with him. He had not directed before. I was simply saying that his odds of pulling off were remote. Which was true. It's much nicer to be treated with honesty than it is to be treated fatuously.
[2013 interview] Fame....it's been a challenge, let's put it that way. It's a privilege and a responsibility, and I'm not sure I carried the responsibility well at times, which is embarrassing. And I've had to look and be disappointed in myself occasionally for how I behaved in some circumstances.
[on his Oscar win for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] It was very isolating. The instant they gave it to me, I thought, God, what do I do now? How am I going to walk into a room and have any other actor trust me?

Salary (1)

The Village (2004) $1,250,000

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