William Hurt

born on 20/3/1950 in Washington, DC, MD, United States

William Hurt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
William Hurt
Birth name William M. Hurt
Born March 20 1950
Years active 1978 present
Spouse(s) Mary Beth Hurt (1971-1982)
Heidi Henderson (1989-1992)

William M. Hurt (born March 20, 1950) is an American actor. He received his acting training at the Juilliard School, and began acting on stage in the 1970s. Hurt made his film debut as a troubled scientist in the science fiction feature Altered States (1980), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year. He subsequently landed the leading role as a sleazy lawyer in the well-received film noir Body Heat (1981).

In 1985, Hurt garnered substantial critical acclaim and multiple acting awards, including an Academy and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor, for portraying a homosexual window dresser in Kiss of the Spider Woman. He went on to receive another two Academy Award nominations for his lead performance in Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Broadcast News (1987). Hurt remained an active stage actor throughout the 1980s, appearing in numerous Off-Broadway productions including Henry V, Fifth of July, Richard II, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also received his first Tony Award nomination in 1985 for the Broadway play Hurlyburly.

After playing a diversity of 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). Other notable films in recent years have included A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Syriana (2005), The Good Shepherd (2006), Mr. Brooks (2007), Into the Wild (2007), The Incredible Hulk (2008), and Robin Hood (2010).

Early life

Hurt was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Claire Isabel (née McGill), who worked at Time, Inc.,[1] and Alfred McCord Hurt, who worked for the U.S. State Department. With his father, he lived in Lahore, Mogadishu, and Khartoum.[2] After his parents divorced, his mother married Henry Luce III (the son of the founder of Time Magazine) during Hurt's childhood. Hurt graduated from Middlesex School in 1968 where he was vice president of the Dramatics Club and had the lead role in several of the school plays. His high school yearbook predicted, "With characteristics such as these, you might even see him on Broadway." Hurt attended Tufts University and studied theology, but turned instead to acting and joined the Juilliard Drama School studying alongside Christopher Reeve.


Hurt appeared first on stage, only later turning to film.His first major film role was in the sci-fi hit Altered States which gave him wide recognition for playing an obsessed scientist. His performance with Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, and newcomer Kathleen Turner in Lawrence Kasdan's neo-noir classic Body Heat elevated Hurt to stardom. 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 for 1985. He has received three additional Oscar nominations; one for Children of a Lesser God, one for Broadcast News and one (for Best Supporting Actor) in A History Of Violence. Hurt also starred in Tuck Everlasting as Angus Tuck.

Often cast as an intellectual, Hurt has put this to good use in many films like Lost in Space and The Big Chill, but he is also effective in other kinds of roles, such as those in I Love You to Death, and David Cronenberg's psychological drama A History of Violence (2005), wherein, with less than 10 minutes of screen time, he plays the creepy mob boss Richie Cusack. That same year, Hurt could be seen as a mysterious government operative in Stephen Gaghan's ensemble drama about the politics of big oil, Syriana.

Hurt has been seen in the mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes, in a piece entitled Battleground. He plays "Renshaw", a hitman who receives a package from the widow of a toymaker he killed, unaware of what is waiting inside for him. [also notable for its complete lack of dialogue] He appeared in the cast of "Vanya", an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya playing in the Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon.[3]

He appeared in Sean Penn's film Into the Wild, the true story of Christopher McCandless. Hurt next starred as General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross in The Incredible Hulk alongside Edward Norton, Liv Tyler and Tim Roth. He also appeared as President Henry Ashton in the 2008 action-thriller Vantage Point. Hurt also played Mr Brooks' alter-ego in Mr. Brooks starring Kevin Costner.

In 2009, Hurt began appearing as a series regular on the critically-acclaimed FX series Damages playing a corporate whistleblower opposite Glenn Close and Marcia Gay Harden. For his role in the series, Hurt earned a 2009 Primetime Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category. He also stars in the 2010 thriller Shadows alongside Cary Elwes and Paula Taylor, directed by John Penney.[4]

Hurt's 2009 Sundance film The Yellow Handkerchief will be released in theaters on February 26, 2010 by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Personal life

Hurt is fluent in French and maintains a home outside Paris. He was previously married to Mary Beth Hurt from 1971 to 1982.

In the 1980s, Hurt was involved in a lawsuit with Sandra Jennings which alleged that the two shared a common law marriage.[5] While he was still married, Hurt and Jennings began a relationship in Saratoga, New York in the summer of 1981.[5] Jennings became pregnant in the Spring of 1982 which precipitated Hurt's divorce from Mary Beth Hurt, after which Hurt and Jennings relocated to South Carolina, which recognized common law marriages.[5] Hurt and Jennings, never officially married, later separated, and Jennings sued in New York, seeking a court order recognizing their purported common law marriage under South Carolina law.[5] The New York court, which did not recognize common law marriage and was reluctant to recognize a common law marriage originating in South Carolina, found in Hurt's favor that no common law marriage existed.[5]

Additionally, Hurt dated Marlee Matlin for two years, and they lived together during 1986. In her 2009 autobiographical book, I'll Scream Later, Matlin claimed their relationship involved considerable drug abuse and physical abuse by Hurt.[6] In response to the accusations aired on CNN on April 13, 2009, Hurt's agent declined to respond. Hurt issued a statement on April 14, 2009, responding to Matlin's remarks. He stated "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."[7]

Hurt has four children: Jeanne with actress Sandrine Bonnaire, Alex with Sandra Jennings and two sons, Sam and William Hurt, from his 1989-92 marriage to Heidi Henderson.

During the filming of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Hurt and a friend were kidnapped at gunpoint and threatened with death.[8]


Year Film Role Notes
1978 Verna: U.S.O. Girl Walter TV film
1980 Altered States Professor Edward Jessup Nominated Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actor
1981 Eyewitness Daryll Deever
Body Heat Ned Racine
1983 The Big Chill Nick
Gorky Park Arkady Renko
1985 Kiss of the Spider Woman Luis Alberto Molina Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
LAFCA Award for Best Actor
Best Actor Award (Cannes Film Festival)
NBR Award for Best Actor (tied with Raul Julia for the same film)
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
1986 Children of a Lesser God James Leeds Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
1987 Broadcast News Tom Grunick Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1988 A Time of Destiny Martin Larraneta
The Accidental Tourist Macon Leary
1990 I Love You to Death Harlan James
Alice Doug Tate
1991 Until the End of the World Sam Farber, alias Trevor McPhee
The Doctor Dr. Jack MacKee
1993 The Plague Doctor Bernard Rieux
1994 Second Best Graham Holt
1995 Smoke Paul Benjamin
1996 A Couch in New York Henry Harriston
Michael Frank Quinlan
Jane Eyre Rochester
1998 Lost in Space Professor John Robinson
Dark City Inspector Frank Bumstead
One True Thing George Gulden
1999 The 4th Floor Greg Harrison
Sunshine Andor Knorr Nominated - Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
The Big Brass Ring William Blake Pellarin
Do Not Disturb Walter Richmond a.k.a. Silent Witness
2000 Contaminated Man David R. Whitman
Frank Herbert's Dune Duke Leto Atreides TV
The Miracle Maker Jairus Voice Only
2001 Rare Birds Restaurateur
A.I. Artificial Intelligence Professor Allen Hobby
The Simian Line Edward
Varian's War Varian Fry
2002 King of Queens Dr. Taber TV
Episode 120: Shrink Wrap
Tuck Everlasting Angus Tuck
Changing Lanes Doyle Gipson's AA Sponsor
Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story Robert Hanssen TV
Nearest to Heaven (Au Plus Près du Paradis) Matt
2004 The Blue Butterfly Alan Osborne
The Village Edward Walker
Frankenstein Professor Waldman TV
2005 The King David
A History of Violence Richie Cusack AFCA Award for Best Supporting Actor
LAFCA Award for Best Supporting Actor
NYFCC Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - OFCS Award for Best Supporting Actor
Neverwas Dr. Peter Reed
Syriana Stan Goff
2006 The Good Shepherd CIA Director Philip Allen
The Legend of Sasquatch John Davis Voice Only
Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King Jason Renshaw TV miniseries (segment "Battleground")
2007 Mr. Brooks Marshall
Beautiful Ohio Simon Messerman
Noise Mayor Schneer
Into the Wild Walt McCandless Nominated - SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2008 Vantage Point President Ashton
The Yellow Handkerchief Brett Hanson
The Incredible Hulk General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross
2009 Damages Daniel Purcell TV
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor Drama Series
Endgame Willie Esterhuyse
The Countess Gyorgy Thurzo
The River Why H2O
2010 Robin Hood William Marshal


  1. William Hurt - Profile, Latest News and Related Articles
  2. William Hurt: In Every Role, A New Life To Inhabit
  3. William Hurt returns to Portland for 'Vanya'
  4. AFM '09: See Carey Elwes in 'Shadows' Promo Trailer
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Jennings v. Hurt, N.Y.L.J., Oct 4, 1989, at 24 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County), aff'd, 554 N.Y.S.2d 220 (App. Div. 1990), appeal denied, 568 N.Y.S.2d 347 (N.Y. 1991)
  6. "Marlee Matlin: Baby sitter's abuse led to life of drugs, violence." CNN. April 14, 2009.
  7. Grossberg, Josh. "William Hurt to Marlee Matlin: "I Apologize for Any Pain I Caused"." Eonline.com. April 14, 2009.
  8. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124043013

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: William Hurt

  • William Hurt at the Internet Movie Database
  • {{{name}}} at the Internet Broadway Database
  • William Hurt at the Internet off-Broadway Database
  • William Hurt at Yahoo! Movies
  • Comprehensive career-overview interview with William Hurt
This page was last modified 26.07.2010 01:32:04

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