Personal detailsName: John Hurt
Born: 22 January 1940 (Age: 74)
Where: Shirebrook, England
Height: 5' 9"
Awards: Won 3 BAFTAs, 1 Golden Globe, nominated for 2 Oscars
All about this star
Regardless of a CV that's longer and more impressive than most, John Hurt remains thankfully self-deprecating. "I've done some stinkers in the cinema," he's said. "You can't regret it. There are alwaysreasons for doing something, even if it's just the location". And it's true, he has done some stinkers. Remember King Ralph? Spaceballs? There was even the ultimate stinker, Heaven's Gate. Yet for 35years the man's taken centre stage in some of film's finest moments, from A Man For All Seasons, through I,Claudius and The Naked Civil Servant, Midnight Express and The Elephant Man, through to today's Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
Born John Vincent Hurt on January 22nd, 1940, in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, his life began inauspiciously and, as he recalls it, really rather sadly. His father was a Church of England clergyman, called upon to move from parish to parish, and Hurt lived until the age of 12 in the industrial countryside of the North, in a small village named Woodville surrounded by coal mines. He remembers being an unhappy boy, solitary and negative, his rigorously middle-class parents denying him permission to play with the other village boys. Consequently he felt trapped in a world of "sham and convention", despite the presence of an older brother, and sister (she later became a teacher in Australia).
Cinema did not mark his early childhood. There was a picture-house directly opposite the vicarage, but he was not allowed to attend (again, too common), and jealously watched the queues that regularly formed across the road. In fact, he did not see a movie till the age of 8, though he does vividly recall his visits to a Mrs Fox-Robinson's, where he was captivated by her Bakelite TV.
Hurt hated school. Run by stridently High clergymen, he found it "bizarre" and painful. Indeed, he loathed all of it but drama. Two events made him decide, at the very tender age of 9, to be an actor. First there was Alec Guinness. One of Hurt's first movie experiences was seeing David Lean's Oliver Twist and he was utterly smitten by Guinness's incredibly expressive Fagin. Then came his own school-play debut, as a girl in Maeterlinck's The Bluebird. Even so young, he remembers feeling "I was in the place I was meant to be".
His education continued to pain him. Expected to follow in his older brother's shining footsteps, he'd failed wretchedly to gain entry to the same prep school (he later had the satisfaction of witnessing his father's appalled reaction when, while at Cambridge, his feted brother dedicated himself to life as a Catholic monk). Now, after his parents' move to Grimsby, Hurt was sent to board at Lincoln School.