Hurt has acted in over 150 film and TV productions, from the fuzzy black and white of early UK tv series to the biggest Hollywood blockbusters of the day, he is an outstanding actor who brings a sublime, gentle energy to each role. From his iconic turn in The Naked Civil Servant to the role of Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, every role is as unique as the last. That the BFI have chosen to single out one of our finest actors is testament to the quality of his work.
Coincidentally I watched Hurt suffer a heart stopping Heimlich in Ridley Scott’s Alien last night and am now watching the 1997 Robert Zemeckis film Contact, in which Hurt plays a billionaire philanthropist with cosmic ambitions. In both films he steals every scene, adding charm and gravitas. His other standout roles include the tragic John Merrick in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and as the rebellious Winston Smith in the 1984 version of Orwell’s Ninteen Eighty-Four, a role he mirrored as the facist Adam Sutler in the adaptation of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.