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Dead William Hurt, the Oscar-winning actor for “Kiss of the Spider Woman” was 71 years old

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A shy and seductive star, a versatile and chameleonic interpreter, William Hurt died a week before his 72nd birthday, “peacefully in the family, of natural causes”, announced one of his sons. Oscar winner for “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1986, he was nominated again for the statuette in 1987 for Children of a Lesser God by Randa Haines, in 1988 for Inside the News by James L. Brooks and in 2006 for A History of violence by David Cronenberg. He had also been nominated for a Tony Award in 1985 for Hurlyburly and twice for Emmys in 2009 for the Damages series and in 2011 for the TV movie Too Big to Fail.


William Hurt died aged 71

A childhood marked by the divorce of his parents, an adolescence touched by the premature death of his mother, a turbulent married life, a professional life troubled by physical abuse, drug use did not stop the actor, born in Washington in 1950, a dazzling career, kissed by success from the first interpretation, “States of hallucination” of 1980. In him the director Ken Russell caught the astonished and profound expression of the big blue eyes, the restrained fire of always pushing himself to the extreme, the dichotomy between an acting so natural as to appear invisible and an uncontrollable inner pain. It is no coincidence that the protagonist of the story (written and then disavowed by Paddy Chayefsky) follows the scientific research, then overwhelmed by a dreamlike delirium, of Eddie Jesuyp who tries on himself the sensory deprivation tank (also used by astronauts) and drugs natural nature of shamans. Immediately nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Emerging Actor, Hurt owes immediate confirmation a year later to another English director, Peter Yates who in “An Inconvenient Witness” transforms him into the night watchman Darryl Deever, drawn into a shady international intrigue for love by anchorwoman Sigourney Weaver. In the same 1981, the young actor meets the meeting of (professional) life and finds himself, in just one night, elected as a sex symbol for the world audience and Hollywood star. In fact, it is Lawrence Kasdan who wants him as the protagonist of the noir “Hot Thrill” from the short story by James C. Cain. Hurt is the young lawyer Ned Racine who seeks the chance of a lifetime more in the beds of wealthy lovers than in courtrooms. He loses his head over the beautiful Matty (Kathleen Turner), wife of a rich businessman from whom he would like to divorce without losing her financial fortune. Damn lovers, the two plan the perfect crime. On the set, actor and director develop an artistic understanding that is also authentic friendship, so much so that they will make a “steady couple” four more times, from “The great cold” of 1983 to “sons of a lesser god” (1986), from “Turista by chance “(1988) to” I will love you until I kill you “(1990).

The carreer

In the meantime, however, the new star’s career has taken other paths: he renewed his success in the thriller with Michael Apted’s “Gorky Park” (193), he was crowned with the Oscar as best actor for “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” Hector Babenco (1985) from the claustrophobic novel by Manuel Puig. In the 90s William Hurt reaped the fruits of a career that was always very careful in his choices and often built on the sensitivity of authors with a European nature. This is the case of Woody Allen in “Alice” (1990) and Wim Wenders (“Until the end of the world” of ’91), again by Luis Puenzo (“The plague”) or Chris Menges (“A father on loan”) up to Wayne Wang’s “Smoke” in 1995 in which he embodies the writer Paul Benjamin who tells the stories of his friend Auggie, manager of a tobacco shop, a simple man with a heart of gold. In 1996 William Hurt was chosen by Franco Zeffirelli for one of his most ambitious international projects: he is the desperate Signor Rochester of “Jane Eyre” from the novel by Charlotte Bronte: also thanks to his capital proof that text, often seen as so many Victorian melodramas in the he optics of empty and elegant costumed portraits, finds the original strength of the writer and the raw realism of an era between light and shadow. But it is also the beginning of a new phase in the career of the actor, at times tempted by forays into the more classic authorial cinema (“A sofa in New York” by Chantal Akerman), at times bent on fashion participation (“Lost in Space” by Stephen Hopkins). Until in 2001 Steven Spielberg remembers him for one of his most ambitious and least considered films, «AI – Artificial Intelligence». Some capital collaborations will follow such as David Cronenberg’s “History of Violence” (2005), Robert De Niro’s “The Good Shepherd” (2006), Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild”. More and more often, however, it is a spark in a sea of ​​now routine interpretations in which sometimes the flicker of self-irony is caught. Some examples: “The Village” by M. Night Shyamalan, “The Incredible Hulk” by Louis Letterier, “The Countess” by Julie Delpy, “Robin Hood” by Ridley Scott, “The Host” by Andrew Niccol, “Captain America : Civil War ”by Anthony and Joe Russo as well as the“ Avengers ”series and many of its more recent television appearances. The last fires of his bright career coincide with the willingness to take on the role of the supporting actor in more than a “big toy” fueled by the myth of superheroes inside and outside the Marvel world. This was also the case recently for Todd Robinson’s “Black Widow” or the military “He was my son” in which he shared the set with Peter Fonda at his “last hurray”. In a few months he should have opposed the incredible Hulk in yet another variant of the comic book made in cinema, but his latest interpretation will remain that of Pere La Chaise in “The King’s Daughter”, a historical drama starring Pierce Brosnan in the role of the Sun King. then the regret for a truly multifaceted interpreter, but who for too long had sent the secret fire of his talent into the attic.