William Hurt

I was saddened to read of the death of actor William Hurt yesterday. Hurt, 71, died of natural causes.

During the 1980s, it seemed like William Hurt was in one great movie every year, films that included Broadcast News, The Big Chill, Children of a Lesser God, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Altered States, and Body Heat. Two of those movies, Broadcast News and The Big Chill, are among my favorites. Hurt’s portrayal of Tom Grunick, the news reporter who faked a tear on his rise to the anchor’s chair and who didn’t quite understand why other characters had a problem with that from an ethical standpoint, was at the heart of Broadcast News; Hurt’s ability to convey Grunick as a slightly dense but generally decent and likeable guy, and not someone who was trying to rise to the top at all costs, helped make that movie work. Nick, the character that Hurt played in The Big Chill, was one of the most interesting and fleshed-out characters in that film. I also liked Hurt’s performance during that same time period in Gorky Park, where he played a criminal investigator in the Soviet Union.

After the ’80s, Hurt wasn’t quite as prominent on the big screen, but his IMDb biography is incredibly long and impressive. We enjoyed his work in one of his last continuing roles, as Tom Cooperman in Goliath, where he played a disfigured and deeply troubled lawyer. In that role, as in many others, Hurt produced a believable, three-dimensional character who might have been a caricature in the hands of a lesser talent.

Rest in peace, William Hurt. You will be missed, but your acting legacy endures.

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