Hurt had three consecutive Academy Awards nominations for Best Actor in the mid-1980s. These included Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Broadcast News (1987.), He won for Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Hurt was also an active stage actor during the 1980s, appeared in Off-Brodway productions and receiving his first Tony Award nomination in 1985 for the Broadway production of Hurlyburly.
Hurt often worked with top-tier directors. His first five films were helmed by Ken Russell, Peter Yates, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Apted and Héctor Babenco. He went on to work on two more films with Kasdan — The Accidental Tourist and I Love You to Death — as well as projects with James L. Brooks, Woody Allen, Gregory Nava, Wim Wenders, Anthony Minghella, Wayne Wang, Nora Ephron, Franco Zeffirelli, Carl Franklin, István Szabó, David Cronenberg, Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan, Ridley Scott, Anthony and Joe Russo and many more.
In 2014, Hurt was on the scene of one of the worst on-set accidents in recent history. He was starring as Gregg Allman in Randall Miller’s biopic, Midnight Rider, when a train smashed into the set on a trestle in rural Georgia, killing camera assistant Sarah Jones and injuring several others. Hurt was on the trestle but unharmed.
The actor later said he repeatedly expressed concern that cast and crew, loaded with gear, were safe on the trestle should a train come and was assured by AD Hillary Schwartz that they were.
“It’s the sorrow of my professional life and one of the great sorrows of my personal life,” Hurt later said. “It was simply impossible to imagine anything like that could happen. The one other thing I could have done was say, ‘This isn’t good enough for me, I’m walking off the set.’ But it was our very, very first day with a crew that had worked together before.”
Shortly after the accident, director/producer Miller attempted to move forward with the production, but Hurt quit rather than return to the film.
Miller, Jay Sedrish, and Schwartz were all convicted of criminal trespassing and involuntary manslaughter in her death. Sedrish and Schwartz only got probation. Miller got two years in jail and eight years probation.
William Hurt Remembered As A Giant Talent By His Peers In The Acting Community
Hurt is survived by four children. No memorial details have been revealed.
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