English actor John Vincent Hurt was born on January 22, 1940 in Shirebrook. He was brought up in a strict family, which forbade him to visit the cinema across the street from theirs and play with local children. When he was eight, he decided to become an actor, landing his first role as a girl in his school’s production of The Bluebird. His parents disliked his acting ambitions, despite her mother’s stint as an amateur actress. When he was 17, he enrolled in Grimsby Art School to pursue his parents’ dream of him becoming an art teacher. He won a scholarship to Central St. Martins College in London, where he studied for an Art Teachers Diploma. In 1960, he won another scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he trained for two years. In 1964, he worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
John Hurt’s first film was 1962’s The Wild and the Willing. His first major role, however, came in 1966, when he portrayed Richard Rich in A Man for All Seasons. In 1975, he played Quentin Crisp in the TV play The Naked Civil Servant, a role that shot him to fame. For his performance, he earned the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. He has also appeared in the BBC drama serial I, Claudius as well as being cast in the 1978 Midnight Express, where he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Hurt is also known for playing the host to the foreign predator in the next year’s Alien.
He also starred in the successful 1983 film The Osterman Weekend, as well as being in King Lear with Laurence Olivier. In 1984, he played Winston Smith in the adaptation of the novel Nineteen Eighty-four. Hurt was also cast in the comedy Partners. He was also in the 1989 historic drama Scandal and is remembered for his role in Love and Death on Long Island. He also appeared on one episode of Saturday Night Live, as well as narrating 2000’s The Tigger Movie. The next year, he portrayed Mr. Ollivander in the blockbuster adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. John Hurt was also cast in Hellboy, and in the successful 2005 film V for Vendetta. He was also given the role of Professor Harold “Ox” Oxley in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. John Hurt is also known for voicing The Great Dragon in the British series Merlin.