Born Name: William McChord Hurt
Date of Birthday: March 20, 1950
Place of Birth: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: March 13, 2022 (aged 71), Portland, Oregon, United States
Education: Middlesex School
Alma mater: Tufts University (BA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
Years active: 1977–2022
Spouse(s): Mary Beth Supinger (m. 1971; div. 1982), Heidi Henderson (m. 1989; div. 1992)
Children: Jeanne Bonnaire-Hurt, Alexander Devon Hurt, Samuel Hurt, William Hurt
William McChord Hurt (March 20, 1950 – March 13, 2022) was an American actor. He studied at the Juilliard School and began acting on stage in the 1970s. Hurt's film debut was in Ken Russell's science-fiction feature Altered States, released in 1980, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year. In 1981 he played a leading role in the neo-noir Body Heat, with Kathleen Turner.
Hurt garnered three consecutive nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Children of a Lesser God (1986), and Broadcast News (1987), winning for the first of these.
Hurt remained an active stage actor throughout the 1980s, appearing in off-Broadway productions including Henry V, Fifth of July, Richard II and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Hurt received his first Tony Award nomination in 1985 for the Broadway production of Hurlyburly.
After playing character roles in the following decade, Hurt earned his fourth Academy Award nomination for his supporting performance in David Cronenberg's crime thriller A History of Violence (2005). His later career films roles include turns in A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), The Village (2004), Syriana (2005), The Good Shepherd (2006), Mr. Brooks (2007), Into the Wild (2007), Robin Hood (2010), and four films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, in which he portrayed Thaddeus Ross.
Early life and education
Hurt was born March 20, 1950, in Washington, D.C., the son of Claire Isabel (née McGill; 1923–1971), who worked for Time Inc., and Alfred McChord Hurt (1910–1996), who worked for the United States Agency for International Development and State Department. He had two brothers. With his father, he lived in Lahore, Mogadishu and Khartoum. His parents divorced and, in 1960, his mother married Henry Luce III (1925–2005), a son of publisher Henry Luce.
Hurt attended the Middlesex School, where he was vice-president of the Dramatics Club and had the lead role in several school plays. He graduated in 1968 and his yearbook predicted, "you might even see him on Broadway." Hurt attended Tufts University and studied theology, but turned instead to acting and joined the Juilliard School (Drama Division Group 5: 1972–1976).
Hurt began his career in stage productions, only later acting in films. From 1977 to 1989, he was a member of the acting company at Circle Repertory Company. He won an Obie Award for his debut appearance there in Corinne Jacker's My Life, and won a 1978 Theatre World Award for his performances in Fifth of July, Ulysses in Traction, and Lulu. In 1979, Hurt played Hamlet under the direction of Marshall W. Mason opposite Lindsay Crouse and Beatrice Straight. His first major film role was in the science-fiction film Altered States where his performance as an obsessed scientist gained him wide recognition. His performance with Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, and newcomer Kathleen Turner in Lawrence Kasdan's neo-noir classic Body Heat elevated Hurt to stardom, and he later also co-starred in Kasdan's The Big Chill (1983). Hurt starred opposite Turner again in Kasdan's film The Accidental Tourist (1988). He appeared in the thriller Gorky Park opposite Lee Marvin. He received the Best Male Performance Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Actor for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1985. He received three additional Oscar nominations: Best Actor for Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Broadcast News (1987; he was thus nominated for Best Actor for three consecutive years) and Best Supporting Actor for A History Of Violence (2005). Hurt also starred in Tuck Everlasting as Angus Tuck.
Often cast as an intellectual, Hurt starred in films such as Lost in Space, but was also effective in other kinds of roles, as in I Love You to Death and David Cronenberg's psychological drama A History of Violence (2005), where in less than 10 minutes of screen time he plays the creepy mob boss, Richie Cusack. Also in 2005, Hurt played a mysterious government operative in Stephen Gaghan's ensemble drama about the politics of big oil, Syriana.
Hurt was in the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes, in a piece titled Battleground (known for its complete lack of dialogue). He plays Renshaw, a hitman who receives a package from the widow of a toymaker he had killed, unaware of what is waiting inside for him. He appeared in the cast of Vanya, an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, at the Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon.
In June 2007, Marvel Studios announced that Hurt would portray General Thaddeus Ross in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk alongside Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, and Tim Roth. Hurt reprised his role in four additional Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films: Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Black Widow (2021).
He appeared in Sean Penn's film Into the Wild, the true story of Christopher McCandless. He appeared as President Henry Ashton in the 2008 action-thriller Vantage Point. Hurt also played Mr. Brooks's alter ego in Mr. Brooks, which starred Kevin Costner.
In 2009, Hurt became a series regular on the FX series Damages playing a corporate whistleblower opposite Glenn Close and Marcia Gay Harden. For his role in the series, he earned a 2009 Primetime Emmy Award nomination in the "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" category. Hurt's 2009 Sundance film The Yellow Handkerchief was released in theaters on February 26, 2010, by Samuel Goldwyn Films. He was in the Thailand-based 2011 thriller Hellgate alongside Cary Elwes and Paula Taylor, directed by John Penney.
In September 2010, Hurt played United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson in the HBO film Too Big to Fail, an adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin's book. He also starred as Captain Ahab in the 2011 television adaptation of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick. In 2018, Hurt was cast as the lead in The Coldest Game (2019), but after he was injured in an off-set accident, he was replaced by Bill Pullman.
Hurt had been set to appear in the series Pantheon and films The Fence, Men of Granite, and Edward Enderby before his death in March 2022. It is unknown if he ever finished or begun to film these roles.
Hurt was married to Mary Beth Hurt from 1971 to 1982. In 1981, while he was still married, Hurt and Sandra Jennings began a relationship in Saratoga Springs, New York. Jennings became pregnant in the spring of 1982, which led to Hurt's divorce from Mary Beth Hurt, after which Hurt and Jennings relocated to South Carolina, a state that recognized common-law marriages.
Hurt and Jennings remained officially unmarried and later separated. Jennings sued him in New York, seeking recognition of their relationship as a common-law marriage under South Carolina law. The New York court did not recognize common-law marriage, was reluctant to recognize a common-law marriage originating in South Carolina, and found in Hurt's favor that no common-law marriage existed.
Hurt dated Marlee Matlin for one year, and they cohabited for two years. In 1986, after Matlin won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God, Hurt reportedly asked her to consider what it meant to win the Oscar after just one film, when others won only after many years of hard work. "What makes you think you deserved it, Marlee?", Hurt allegedly asked her in the limousine after the ceremony. In her 2009 autobiography I'll Scream Later, Matlin said that their relationship involved considerable drug abuse and physical abuse by Hurt. In response to the accusations aired on CNN on April 13, 2009, Hurt's agent declined to respond, but Hurt issued a statement the following day, which said: "My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we have both grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good."
Hurt had four children: one with Jennings, two with Heidi Henderson, and one with French actress, film director and screenwriter Sandrine Bonnaire.
Hurt was a private pilot and owner of a Beechcraft Bonanza. He was fluent in French and maintained a home outside Paris.
Health and death
In May 2018, it was announced that Hurt had terminal prostate cancer that had already metastasized to the bones. He died from complications of the disease at his home in Portland, Oregon, on March 13, 2022, one week before his 72nd birthday.