JOHN HURT Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: John Vincent Hurt                                                                     
Born: 22 January 1940 Chesterfield, England                                                 
John Vincent Hurt (born 22 January 1940) is a two-time Academy Award-nominated,             
Golden Globe- and triple BAFTA Award-winning English actor whose film credits               
include A Man for All Seasons, Alien, The Elephant Man, 1984, Rob Roy, Hellboy               
and V for Vendetta. He is one of England's best-known, most prolific and sought-after       
actors, and has had a versatile career spanning over 40 years. He is highly                 
respected for his many Shakespearean roles.                                                 
Hurt was born in Shirebrook near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, the son of Phyllis (née         
Massey), an amateur actress and engineer, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, a                       
mathematician who became an Anglican clergyman. John has an older brother,                   
Michael, a monk based in Ireland, and an adopted sister, Monica. His father,                 
Arnould, was a vicar at St. John in Sunderland, but in 1937 he moved his family             
to Derbyshire, where he became Perpetual Curate of Holy Trinity church. When                 
John was five, Arnould became the vicar of St Stephen at Woodville in South                 
Derbyshire and remained there until 1959.                                                   
Hurt had a strict upbringing. The family lived opposite a cinema, but he was not             
allowed to see films. He was also not permitted to mix with local children                   
because, in his parents' view, they were 'too common'. At the age of eight, he               
was sent to the Anglo-Catholic St Michaels prep school at Sevenoaks in Kent, and             
while there, he decided to become an actor. His first role was that of a girl in             
a school play, The Bluebird (L'Oiseau Bleu) by the Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck.             
Hurt's father Arnould then moved to St. Aidan church in Cleethorpes, and his son             
became a boarder at Christ's Hospital School (then a grammar school) in Lincoln,             
because he had failed the entrance exam for admission to his brother's school.               
Hurt often accompanied his mother to Cleethorpes Repertory theatre, but his                 
parents disliked his acting ambitions and encouraged him to become an art                   
teacher instead. His headmaster, Mr Franklin, laughed when Hurt told him he                 
wanted to be an actor, saying 'you wouldn't stand a chance in the profession'.               
At the age of 17, Hurt enrolled in Grimsby Art School (now the East Coast School             
of Art & Design), where he studied art.                                                     
In 1959, Hurt won a scholarship allowing him to study for an Art Teachers                   
Diploma (ATD) at Central St Martins College in Holborn, London. Despite the                 
scholarship, paying for his studies was financially difficult, so he persuaded               
some of his friends to pose nude and sold the portraits. In 1960, however, he               
won a scholarship to RADA, where he trained for two years. He was then cast in               
small roles on TV.                                                                           
In 1962, Arnould left his parish in Cleethorpes to become headmaster of St                   
Michael's College in Belize, Latin America. Monica went to teach in Australia,               
and Michael (who had attended Cambridge University) became a Catholic monk. In               
that same year, Hurt first performed on the London stage and also married for               
the first time, to the actress Annette Robertson, because she had claimed to be             
pregnant. The marriage ended in 1964, after eighteen months, since the pregnancy             
had proved to be false. At that time, Hurt was performing with the Royal                     
Shakespeare Company; he was also entering on many years as an alcoholic, though             
he has since rid himself of his addiction. In 1967, he began                                 
his longest relationship, with the French model Marie-Lise Volpeliere-Pierrot.               
It lasted fifteen years and ended with her untimely death in a riding accident               
on 26 January 1983.                                                                         
Hurt was married for the second time, on the 6th of September 1984, to Texan                 
actress and old friend Donna Peacock. He had proposed to her the day before at               
Freddie Mercury's 38th birthday party in the Xenon nightclub in London, and they             
were married at a local Registrar's office. The couple moved to Kenya and tried,             
unsuccessfully, to have children through IVF. They divorced in early January                 
Soon afterwards, (on 24 January 1990), Hurt married an American production                   
assistant, Jo Dalton, whom he had met while filming Scandal. With her, he had               
two sons: Alexander John Vincent (born 6 February 1990), and Nicholas Dalton (born           
5 February 1993). This marriage ended in 1996 because Jo had an affair with a               
gardener, Arthur Shackleton, when Hurt briefly returned to Donna Peacock in                 
Kenya. Hurt's drinking had also been a problem.                                             
Another partner was Sarah Owen, twenty years younger than Hurt, with whom he                 
lived in County Wicklow, Ireland. In March of 2005, Hurt married his fourth wife,           
the advertising film producer Ann Rees Meyers.                                               
Hurt's mother died in 1975, and his father lived until November of 1999, when he             
died at the age of 95.                                                                       
In January of 2002, John Hurt received an honorary degree from the University of             
Derby, and in January 2006 he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters             
from the University of Hull.                                                                 
In 2007, Hurt took part in the genealogical television series Who Do You Think               
You Are?, which investigated part of his family history. Prior to participating             
in the programme, Hurt had harboured a love of Ireland and was enamoured of a “deeply     
beguiling” family legend that suggested his great-grandmother had been the                 
illegitimate daughter of an Irish nobleman, the Marquess of Sligo. However, the             
genealogical evidence uncovered seemed to contradict the family legend,                     
rendering Hurt's Irish connections doubtful. This discovery upset him as it                 
altered his sense of identity.