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William Hurt
History of Violence 002 (7271227040).jpg
Hurt signing autographs at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival
William McChord Hurt

(1950-03-20) March 20, 1950 (age 71)
EducationTufts University (BA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
Years active1977–present
(m. 1971; div. 1982)

Heidi Henderson
(m. 1989; div. 1992)
Partner(s)Sandra Jennings
Marlee Matlin
Sandrine Bonnaire

William McChord Hurt[1][2] (born March 20, 1950) is an American actor. He studied at the Juilliard School and began acting on stage in the 1970s. Hurt made his film debut in 1980 as a troubled scientist in Ken Russell's science-fiction feature Altered States, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year. In 1981 he played a leading role, as a lawyer who succumbs to the temptations of Kathleen Turner, in the neo-noir Body Heat. He played another leading role, as Arkady Renko, in Gorky Park (1983).

In 1985 Hurt garnered critical acclaim and multiple acting awards, including an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor, for Kiss of the Spider Woman. He received another two Academy Award nominations for his lead performances in Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Broadcast News (1987). 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 a variety 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 recent films include 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 the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, in which he portrays Thaddeus Ross.[3]

Early life

Hurt was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Claire Isabel (née McGill; 1923–1971),[4] who worked at Time Inc., and Alfred McChord Hurt (1910–1996), who worked for the State Department.[5] He has two brothers.[6] With his father, he lived in Lahore, Mogadishu and Khartoum.[7] After his parents divorced, his mother married Henry Luce III (a son of publisher Henry Luce) during Hurt's childhood. 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,[8] but turned instead to acting and joined the Juilliard School (Drama Division Group 5: 1972–1976).[9] Two of his classmates there were Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams.


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). 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 has 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 has starred as such in films such as Lost in Space, but has also been effective in other kinds of role, 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 entitled Battleground (also notable 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.[10]

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.[11] Hurt reprised his role in Captain America: Civil War (2016),[12] 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 starring 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, Hurt 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.[13]

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, he 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.[14]

Personal life

Hurt is fluent in French and maintains a home outside Paris. He is the stepgrandson of Henry Luce, founder of Time magazine and actress-writer Clare Boothe Luce, through his mother's marriage to Henry Luce's son from his first marriage, Henry Luce III.[15]

Hurt was married to Mary Beth Hurt from 1971 to 1982.[15] In the 1980s he was involved in a lawsuit with Sandra Jennings, who alleged that they had a common-law marriage.[16] While he was still married, Hurt and Jennings had begun a relationship in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1981.[16] 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, a state that recognized common-law marriages.[16] Hurt and Jennings remained officially unmarried and later separated. Jennings sued him in New York, seeking recognition of the "marriage" under South Carolina law.[16] 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.[16]

Hurt dated Marlee Matlin for one year, and they cohabited for two years.[17] 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.[18] In her 2009 autobiography I'll Scream Later, Matlin said that their relationship involved considerable drug abuse and physical abuse by Hurt.[19] 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."[20]

Hurt has four children: one with Jennings, two with Heidi Henderson, and one with French actress, film director and screenwriter Sandrine Bonnaire.[15]

Hurt is a private pilot and owner of a Beechcraft Bonanza.[21]



Year Title Role Director Notes
1980 Altered States Professor Edward Jessup Ken Russell Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best New Actor of the Year – Motion Picture
1981 Eyewitness Daryll Deever Peter Yates
Body Heat Ned Racine Lawrence Kasdan
1983 The Big Chill Nick Carlton Lawrence Kasdan
Gorky Park Arkady Renko Michael Apted
1985 Kiss of the Spider Woman Luis Alberto Molina Héctor Babenco Academy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Film Actor in a Leading Role
Cannes Film Festival – Best Male Interpretation
David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actor
London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor (tied with Raul Julia)
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated – National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Nominated – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1986 Children of a Lesser God James Leeds Randa Haines Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1987 Broadcast News Tom Grunick James L. Brooks Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1988 A Time of Destiny Martin Larraneta Gregory Nava
The Accidental Tourist Macon Leary Lawrence Kasdan  Golden Horse Award for Best Foreign Actor
1990 I Love You to Death Harlan James Lawrence Kasdan
Alice Doug Tate Woody Allen
1991 Until the End of the World Sam Farber, alias Trevor McPhee Wim Wenders
The  Doctor Dr. Jack MacKee Randa Haines Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
1992 The Plague Doctor Bernard Rieux Luis Puenzo
1993 Mr. Wonderful Tom Anthony Minghella
1994 Second Best Graham Holt Chris Menges
Trial by Jury Tommy Vesey Heywood Gould
1995 Smoke Paul Benjamin Wayne Wang
1996 A Couch in New York Henry Harriston Chantal Akerman
Michael Frank Quinlan Nora Ephron
Jane Eyre Edward Fairfax Rochester Franco Zeffirelli
1997 Loved K.D. Dietrickson Erin Dignam
1998 Lost in Space Professor John Robinson Stephen Hopkins
Dark City Inspector Frank Bumstead Alex Proyas
One True Thing George Gulden Carl Franklin
1999 The 4th Floor Greg Harrison Josh Klausner
Sunshine Andor Knorr István Szabó Nominated – Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
The Big Brass Ring William Blake Pellarin George Hickenlooper
Do Not Disturb Walter Richmond Dick Maas a.k.a. Silent Witness
2000 Contaminated Man David R. Whitman Anthony Hickox
The Miracle Maker Jairus (voice) Derek W. Hayes and Stanislav Sokolov
2001 Rare Birds Restaurateur Sturla Gunnarsson
A.I. Artificial Intelligence Professor Allen Hobby Steven Spielberg
The Simian Line Edward Linda Yellen
2002 Tuck Everlasting Angus Tuck Jay Russell
Changing Lanes Doyle Gipson's AA Sponsor Roger Michell
Nearest to Heaven Matt Tonie Marshall
2004 The Blue Butterfly Alan Osborne Léa Pool
The Village Edward Walker M. Night Shyamalan
2005 The King David Sandow James Marsh
A History of Violence Richie Cusack David Cronenberg Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
North Texas Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – International Cinephile Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Neverwas Dr. Peter Reed Joshua Michael Stern
Syriana Stan Goff Stephen Gaghan
2006 The Good Shepherd CIA Director Philip Allen Robert De Niro
The Legend of Sasquatch John Davis (voice) Thomas Callicoat Also co-producer
2007 Mr. Brooks Marshall Bruce A. Evans
Beautiful Ohio Simon Messerman Chad Lowe
Noise Mayor Schneer Henry Bean
Into the Wild Walt McCandless Sean Penn Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2008 Vantage Point President Harry Ashton Pete Travis
The Incredible Hulk Thaddeus Ross Louis Leterrier
2009 The Countess György Thurzó Julie Delpy
2010 The Yellow Handkerchief Brett Hanson Udayan Prasad
Robin Hood William Marshal Ridley Scott
2011 The River Why Henning Hale-Orviston Matthew Leutwyler
Late Bloomers Adam Julie Gavras
Hellgate Warren Mills John Penney
2013 The Host Jeb Stryder Andrew Niccol
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Julian Rigby Ned Benson
Fire in the Blood Narrator (voice) Dylan Mohan Gray Documentary
Days and Nights Herb Christian Camargo
2014 Winter's Tale Isaac Penn Akiva Goldsman
2016 Race Jeremiah Mahoney Stephen Hopkins
Captain America: Civil War Thaddeus Ross Anthony and Joe Russo
2018 The Miracle Season Ernie Found Sean McNamara
Avengers: Infinity War Thaddeus Ross Anthony and Joe Russo Cameo
2019 Avengers: Endgame
The Last Full Measure Tom Tulley Todd Robinson
2021 Black Widow Thaddeus Ross Cate Shortland
TBA The King's Daughter Père La Chaise Sean McNamara Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Best of Families James Lathrop Miniseries multiple episodes
Kojak Jake 2 episodes
1978 Verna: U.S.O. Girl Walter Television movie
1998 Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait by John Boorman Self Documentary
2000 Frank Herbert's Dune Duke Leto I Atreides[22] 3 episodes
2001 The Flamingo Rising Turner Knight TV film
Varian's War Varian Fry Television movie
Nominated for Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2002 The King of Queens Dr. Taber Episode: "Shrink Wrap"
Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story Robert Hanssen Television movie
2004 Frankenstein Professor Waldman Television movie
2006 Nightmares and Dreamscapes Jason Renshaw Episode: "Battleground"
2009 Damages Daniel Purcell 10 episodes
Nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor – Drama Series
Endgame Willie Esterhuyse TV movie
Nominated for Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2011 Moby Dick Captain Ahab 2 episodes
Too Big to Fail Henry Paulson Television movie
Nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated for Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2013 Bonnie & Clyde Frank Hamer 2 episodes
Nominated for Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
The Challenger Disaster Richard Feynman Television movie
2015 Humans George Millican 7 episodes (main cast)
2016 Beowulf Hrothgar 5 episodes
2016–19 Goliath[23] Donald Cooperman 12 episodes
2018–20 Condor Bob Partridge[24] Main cast
2021 Mythic Quest Peter Cromwell 1 episode

Audiobook narration

Year Book Role Notes
1989 The Polar Express Narrator Cassette tape only


  1. ^ Obituary "Survivors include two sons from his first marriage, the actor William McChord Hurt and James Harlan Hurt, both of New York; and five grandchildren"
  2. ^ "FindACase™         - SANDRA JENNINGS v. WILLIAM MCCHORD HURT (02/14/91)".
  3. ^ "New Black Widow Set Photos Confirm William Hurt on Set". Marvel. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "Claire Isabelle McGill Luce (1923–1971)". Oregon Encyclopedia. Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  5. ^ "William Hurt – Profile, Latest News and Related Articles". E!. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  6. ^ "Mrs. Henry Luce 3d, Investment Analyst, Is Dead". The New York Times. June 24, 1971. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  7. ^ "William Hurt: In Every Role, A New Life To Inhabit". NPR. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  8. ^ Sandra Brennan (2013). "William Hurt". The New York Times. Baseline. All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013.
  9. ^ "Alumni News: September 2007". Archived from the original on November 11, 2011. William Hurt (Group 5)
  10. ^ "William Hurt returns to Portland for 'Vanya'". Portland Tribune. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  11. ^ "William Hurt Joins Incredible Hulk Cast as General Thunderbolt Ross". June 14, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  12. ^ "Marvel Studios Begins Production on Marvel's 'Captain America: Civil War'". June 14, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  13. ^ "AFM '09: See Carey Elwes in 'Shadows' Promo Trailer". Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  14. ^ "Bill Pullman replaces William Hurt in "The Coldest Game"".
  15. ^ a b c "Overview for William Hurt". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  16. ^ a b c d e Jennings v. Hurt, N.Y.L.J., October 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)
  17. ^ Matlin, Marlee. I'll Scream Later. (2009)
  18. ^ Goodison, Donna (May 23, 2019). "Actress Marlee Matlin: Courage Plus Dreams Equals Success". CRN. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  19. ^ "Marlee Matlin: Baby sitter's abuse led to life of drugs, violence." CNN. April 14, 2009
  20. ^ Grossberg, Josh. "William Hurt to Marlee Matlin: "I Apologize for Any Pain I Caused"." E!. April 14, 2009
  21. ^ "A Plane-crazy America". AOPA Pilot: 79.
  22. ^ Fritz, Steve (December 4, 2000). "Dune: Remaking the Classic Novel". Archived from the original on March 16, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2018 – via
  23. ^ Elavsky, Cindy (September 21, 2015). "Celebrity Q&A". King Features. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  24. ^ Denise Petski (April 12, 2017). "'Condor': William Hurt & Bob Balaban To Topline Audience Network Series; Full Cast Set". Deadline magazine. Retrieved March 1, 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 July 2021, at 22:01
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