Monday, March 14, 2022


William Hurt, who became a hot Hollywood commodity with his performance as a hapless lawyer in “Body Heat” in 1981 and within a few years had won the best-actor Oscar for the 1985 film “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” in which he portrayed a gay man sharing a Brazilian prison cell with a revolutionary, died at his home in Portland, Ore., on Sunday. He was 71.

A son, Alexander Hurt, said the cause was complications of prostate cancer.

Mr. Hurt, tall, blond and speaking in a measured cadence that lent a cerebral quality to his characters, was a leading man in some of the most popular films of the 1980s, including “The Big Chill” (1983), “Children of a Lesser God” (1986), “Broadcast News” (1987) and “The Accidental Tourist” (1988).

“Children of a Lesser God” and “Broadcast News” earned him best-actor Oscar nominations as well, meaning he had the heady distinction of being nominated for that award in three consecutive years.

In later years, Mr. Hurt transitioned from leading man to supporting roles; he was nominated for another Academy Award, as best supporting actor, for “A History of Violence” (2005).

Mr. Hurt won an Academy Award for best actor in 1986 for his role in the 1985 film “Kiss of The Spider Woman.”

“Mr. Hurt won a well-deserved best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for a performance that is crafty at first, carefully nurtured and finally stirring in profound, unanticipated ways,” she wrote. “What starts out as a campy, facetious catalog of Hollywood trivia becomes an extraordinarily moving film about manhood, heroism and love.”

Before he broke into films, Mr. Hurt was an in-demand stage actor, working frequently at Circle Repertory in New York, among other theaters. In 1985 he was nominated for a Tony Award for best featured actor in a play for his work in “Hurlyburly,” a David Rabe play directed by Mike Nichols with a loaded cast that included Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, Harvey Keitel and Jerry Stiller.

Later in his career he played roles large and small. In a 2009 interview with The Times, he explained: “I don’t have to be the star, physically. My greatest offering is my concept. It isn’t my face.”

In recent years he had worked more in television, including the FX series “Damages” and the British sci-fi drama “Humans.” He was also in the 2013 television movie “The Challenger Disaster,” which in a 2015 interview prompted The Guardian to ask him if he was interested in space travel.

“I’m interested in all horizons and what’s on the other side of them,” he said. “We know less about the ocean than we do about space. I like to swim, float and fly.”

In addition to his son Alexander, who is from his relationship with Ms. Jennings, Mr. Hurt is survived by two sons from his marriage to Ms. Henderson, Samuel and William Jr.; a daughter from his relationship with Sandrine Bonnaire, Jeanne Bonnaire-Hurt; two brothers, James Hurt and Ken O’Sullivan; and two grandchildren.

Alexander Hurt, an actor, said in a phone interview that what he will remember about his father is “the pride he took in the work he did, and the pride we took — all of my siblings and I — in the work he did.”

“He had a pure spirit,” he added, “and that’s what we’re all going to miss the most, and the way he challenged us all.”

He worked on films up until his death...

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