John Hurt, Star of ‘Alien’ and ‘Harry Potter,’ Dies at 77

Veteran actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015

John Hurt, the British film actor and two-time Oscar nominee, has died at the age of 77 on Friday. He had been treated for pancreatic cancer.

“It is with deep sadness that I have to confirm that my husband, John Vincent Hurt, died on Wednesday 25th January 2017 at home in Norfolk,” a statement from Hurt’s widow, Anwen, read. “John was the most sublime of actors and the most gentlemanly of gentlemen with the greatest of hearts and the most generosity of spirit. He touched all our lives with joy and magic and it will be a strange world without him. I ask that we are allowed to come to terms with our loss without further intrusion.”
 Hurt was best known for playing John Merrick in “The Elephant Man,” the acclaimed 1980 film directed by David Lynch about a kind-hearted man who’s feared by society because of his severe physical deformity.

Hurt’s decades-long career also included a three-episode arc as the War Doctor in BBC’s “Doctor Who,” an Academy Award-nominated role in the 1978 prison drama “Midnight Express,” wand-maker Mr. Ollivander in three “Harry Potter” films and an especially memorable death scene in Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic “Alien.”

The actor recently played a priest in Pablo Larraín’s Jacqueline Kennedy biopic “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman, and was next set to appear in Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic “Darkest Hour” alongside Ben Mendelsohn, Gary Oldman and Lily James.

His other credits include “A Man for All Seasons,” “10 Rillington Place,” “The Naked Civil Servant,” “Watership Down,” “Little Malcolm,” “King Lear,” “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” “V for Vendetta,” “Melancholia” and “Snowpiercer.”

Hurt was born in 1940, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England and studied acting at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His film debut came in 1962’s “The Wild and the Willing” opposite Virginia Maskell, Paul Rogers, Ian McShane and Samantha Eggar.

In June 2015, Hurt announced that he was receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer, telling the BBC at the time that he remained “more than optimistic.”

The actor said he chose to share his diagnosis with the press because he had “always been open about the way in which I conduct my life.”