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John Hurt

Playing Professor Oxley in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is John Hurt, who was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and lived until the age of 12 in the industrial countryside of the Midlands, in a small village named Woodville. The son of a Church of England clergyman, he first went to Grimsby Art School and St. Martin's School of Art in London before winning a scholarship to RADA.

Hurt made both his professional stage debut (as Knocker White in Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger and his film debut (The Wild and The Willing) in 1962, going on to take the Critics' Award for Most Promising Actor in Harold Pinter's The Dwarfs the following year. It was his work in a 1966 London production of "Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs" that secured his role as Richard Rich in the Academy Award-winning film version of Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons the same year.

Hurt's stage appearances include Pinter's The Caretaker, Sean O'Casey's Shadow of a Gunman, Tom Stoppard's Travesties (for the RSC in which he originated the role of Tristan Tzara) and Turgenev's A Month in The Country. The year 2000 saw his greatly acclaimed performance in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape in London's West End. Later that year, Atom Egoyan made a film adaptation of this definitive stage performance, and he reprised the role as part of the 2006 Becket Festival at The Barbican.

His impressive body of television work commenced in 1961 and has included such notable roles as Caligula in I, Claudius, Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, the title role in Jim Henson's The Storyteller and, most memorably, Quentin Crisp in the autobiographical The Naked Civil Servant, for which he received a Best Actor Emmy and a BAFTA Best Television Actor Award.

It was his defining film roles as Max in Midnight Express (1978) and as John Merrick in The Elephant Man (1980) that thrust Hurt into the international spotlight with BAFTA awards and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor respectively. His other film work includes a trio of roles in 1984 for which he received the Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for that year – 1984, The Hit and Champions. His many other films include 10 Rillington Place, Alien, Sam Peckinpah's last film, The Ostermann Weekend, Scandal, The Field, Rob Roy, John Boorman's Two Nudes Bathing, for which he received a Cable Ace Award in 1995, and an acclaimed performance in Richard Kwietniowski's Love and Death on Long Island. He was also seen as Dr. Iannis in Captain Corelli's Mandolin directed by John Madden, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone directed by Chris Columbus and Owning Mahowny directed by Richard Kwietniowski.

Hurt has always been well-known for his very individual voice which has been used to great effect in documentaries, animated films (such as Ralph Bakshi's Lord of The Rings, The Tigger Movie, Watership Down and Valiant), radio (including Tom Stoppard's Albert's Bridge, which won The Italia Prize, The French Lieutenant's Woman and Madame Bovary), and in the hugely acclaimed public awareness campaign for AIDS. In 2002, he recorded the narration for Lars von Trier's Dogville and, in 2004, his Manderlay. In 2006, he was the narrator for the long-awaited screen version of Perfume directed by Ton Tykwer.

In 2003, Hurt won the Variety Club Award for Outstanding Performance in a Stage Play, along with his co-star Penelope Wilton for Brian Friel's Afterplay. This was followed by the film Hellboy directed by Guillermo del Toro for Revolution Studios, and The Alan Clark Diaries for the BBC. The same year, he was awarded the inaugural Richard Harris Award at the British Independent Film Awards.

The year 2004 saw Hurt film The Skeleton Key for Universal, Shooting Dogs, directed by Michael Caton-Jones for BBC Films, and The Proposition directed by John Hillcoat. He was also awarded a C.B.E.

In 2005, he filmed V for Vendetta for Warner Bros., appeared in Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Heroes by Gerald Sibleyras, at Wyndham's Theatre. The play was directed by Thea Sharrock and won the 2006 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. That year, he filmed Boxes, written and directed by Jane Birkin, and Outlander.

In 2007, Hurt filmed Oxford Murders directed by Alex de la Iglesia, Lecture 21 directed by Alessandro Baricco, Recount directed by Jay Roach, in which he played Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, and Hellboy II — The Golden Army for Guillermo del Toro.

Hurt recently completed a new project with director Jim Jarmusch and is currently in preparation for 44 Inch Chest written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto (Sexy Best), to be directed by Malcolm Venville.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2008.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

John Hurt Facts

Birth NameJohn Vincent Hurt
BirthdayJanuary 22, 1940 (82)
BirthplaceChesterfield, Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom
Height5' 9" (1m75)  How tall is John Hurt compared to you?
Awards1979 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture (for Midnight Express)

Selected Filmography

Outlander (2008) as Rothgar
The Good Shepherd (2006)
V for Vendetta (2006) as Adam Sutler
Hellboy (2004) as Broom
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Lost Souls (2000) as Father Lareaux
The Climb (1999) as Chuck Langer
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) as Winstin Smith
The Elephant Man (1980) as John Merrick (breakthrough)
Alien Quadrilogy (1979)
I, Claudius (1977)
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