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Thursday 23 November 2017

Family and fans mourn 'the most gentlemanly of gentlemen' Hurt (77)

John Hurt with wife Anwen
John Hurt with wife Anwen

The widow of John Hurt has said it will be a "strange world" without the veteran actor following his death at the age of 77.

Anwen Hurt said the Oscar- nominated star died at his home in Norfolk on Wednesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

She called the award-winning actor the "most gentlemanly of gentlemen", as it was revealed that he spent the last years of his life working on a number of films.

Hurt will return to screens as Ralph, a successful screenwriter who is facing terminal illness, in That Good Night, which takes its name from the poem by Dylan Thomas Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

He had completed filming the role, described as "poignant" by producers, months before his death as he continued to work at a prodigious rate.

Sadness

In a statement, Mrs Hurt said: "It is with deep sadness that I have to confirm that my husband, John Vincent Hurt, died on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at home in Norfolk.

"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."

As well as working on That Good Night, Hurt was also starring in the Jackie Kennedy biopic, Jackie, thriller Damascus Cover and the upcoming biopic of boxer Lenny McLean, My Name Is Lenny.

Jackie co-star Natalie Portman said she was "so extremely sad" to hear of Hurt's death.

"I was lucky enough to make two films with him, both of which were taken to the next level because of his performances," she said.

"He was the most talented actor, and also a deeply good and funny and poetic and smart and warm human being.

"I send my love to his family at this terrible time, and join his fans in watching his films that we are lucky enough to have for ever."

Hurt was also filming Darkest Hour, in which he starred as Neville Chamberlain opposite Gary Oldman's Winston Churchill.

Hurt recently pulled out of a production of John Osborne's play The Entertainer on medical advice as he recovered from an intestinal complaint.

He had been due to play Billy Rice in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company production, directed by Rob Ashford.

A spokesman for the producers of That Good Night expressed their "sincere condolences" and said they felt privileged to have worked with the actor.

"John delivers a masterful and touching performance of this flawed character as he attempts to be reconciled to his son and, secretly, to ensure he is not a burden to his wife as he goes 'into that good night'," the spokesman said.

He added that Hurt's role in the film "was extremely poignant but one that he was very proud of and keen to take on and complete despite his own personal battles with illness".

Beloved

The actor was nominated for two Academy Awards, for The Elephant Man and Midnight Express, and won four Baftas, including a lifetime achievement accolade in 2012 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British cinema.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted of Hurt, who played wand-maker Mr Ollivander in the film adaptations of her books: "So very sad to hear that the immensely talented and deeply beloved John Hurt has died. My thoughts are with his family and friends."

Childline founder and president Esther Rantzen said Hurt, who was a fundraiser for the children's charity, had achieved an "extraordinary career".

"He will be a great loss to the children in this country," she said.

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