Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

John Hurt RIP

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.
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 4 comments