Sir John Hurt, the renowned British actor whose notable roles include Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant and John Merrick in The Elephant Man, has died at the age of 77.

John Hurt starring in The Elephant Man (1980). Picture credit: Brooksfilms/Universal

The veteran performer passed away at his Norfolk home on Wednesday (25 January) after battling pancreatic cancer.

His agent, Charles McDonald, confirmed his death to the Press Association through which Hurt’s wife, Awen, whom the star married in 2005, also released a statement.

“It is with deep sadness that I have to confirm that my husband, John Vincent Hurt, died on Wednesday 25th January 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.” – Anwen Hurt

Before coming to prominence as Richard Rich in the 1966 period film A Man for All Seasons, Sir John’s six decades long acting career saw early roles in BBC cop drama Z Cars and ATV’s Probation Officer.

His striking portrayal of Quentin Crisp in the 1975 biographical telefilm The Naked Civil Servant earnt him a BAFTA for Best Actor – his first of four BAFTA wins. Hurt later portrayed the gay writer again in 2009’s An Englishman in New York, which followed a later stage of Crisp’s life.

His role of a drug addict in prison-based drama film Midnight Express (1978) brought further success as did his role as the severely deformed ‘John Merrick’ in David Lynch’s 1980 film The Elephant Man.

“Oh no. What terrible news. We’ve lost John Hurt as great on the stage, small screen and big.” – Stephen Fry (@stephenfry)

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) saw Hurt play executive officer Kane from whose chest the extraterrestrial creature emerges. Among his other credits are V for Vendetta (2006), wand merchant Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter series, and on TV as Caligula in I, Claudius and the War Doctor in a feature-length edition of Doctor Who to mark the sci-fi drama’s 50th anniversary.

Sir John, who was born on January 22 1940 in Derbyshire, received a knighthood in 2015 for services to drama. He withdrew from the play ‘The Entertainer’ recently despite reportedly being given the all-clear from cancer.

“So very sad to hear that the immensely talented and deeply beloved John Hurt has died. My thoughts are with his family and friends.” – Harry Potter author, JK Rowling (@jk_rowling)

Hurt in another of his acclaimed roles, as Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant.  Credit: Euston/Thames/Fremantle
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