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Tony Grist

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John Hurt RIP [Jan. 30th, 2017|12:42 pm]
Tony Grist
Oliver Reed: "I can drink you under the fucking table."

John Hurt: "I'm sure you could Oliver, but where's the fun in that?"

(reported by Michael Thornton in The Mail)

Yes, he was a heavy drinker- but unlike his contemporaries- Harris, Burton, Reed, O'Toole- he never let it get in the way of the work. About all of those damaged archangels hangs the faint miasma of unfulfilled promise, but he- equally damaged, equally gifted- amply fulfilled his potential. He was never exactly a film star. The industry used him extensively for character work but rarely asked him to carry a project- which meant he never had a legend to live up to- or, perhaps- more money than he knew what to do with.  When he took a starring role it was almost always as an outsider- buried in prosthetics to play John Merrick the Elephant Man or primped and permed into near-unrecognisability as Quentin Crisp. If his employers asked him to don toga and sandals it was to play mad, sadistic Caligula, if they required him to wear leather and carry a gun it was as the weary, burned out War Doctor- the one who doesn't get a number. He wasn't hero material- or at least not Hollywood hero material. Burton may have been too old, too raddled and too heavy to be running around with a machine gun alongside the young Clint Eastwood- but his aura of superstardom cancelled out the implausibility; Hurt would never even have been considered for the part. He was weedy, haunted, more than a little otherworldly- and these qualities were his professional salvation. He wasn't offered the sort of roles that invite an actor to phone it in.

He worked very hard. His last appearance- while still alive- as a wise old father confessor in Jackie- won him great reviews- and he died with three unreleased movies in the can.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sovay
2017-01-30 10:17 pm (UTC)
He was weedy, haunted, more than a little otherworldly- and these qualities were his professional salvation. He wasn't offered the sort of roles that invite an actor to phone it in.

That is a nice way of writing about him. I was aware of him as an actor almost as soon as I could watch TV and he only became more important over the years.

Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four and Braddock in The Hit are two of his rare leading roles; neither is exactly what you would call a conventional hero, which is why the second movie is one of my favorite things he ever appeared in.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-31 09:26 am (UTC)
He also had great discrimination- or his agent did- and appeared in more than his fair share of classic movies and TV shows.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2017-01-31 04:15 am (UTC)
We watched The Day of the Doctor last night in memoriam.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-31 09:27 am (UTC)
He was, I suppose, the greatest actor ever to play the Doctor.
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