Actor William Hurt, who launched into fame in the 1980s, winning an Oscar for 1985’s Kiss of the Spider Woman and starring in such films as The Big Chill and Body Heat, died Sunday of natural causes. He was 71. Hurt was nominated for four Oscars in his career, including a supporting actor nod for less than 10 minutes of screen time in A History of Violence. He was one of the most heralded stars of the 1980s and was somewhat of a sex symbol.
His son Will said in a statement, “It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of William Hurt, beloved father and Oscar winning actor, on March 13, 2022, one week before his 72nd birthday. He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes.”
In the 1990s, he transitioned to character roles and seamlessly moved back and forth between television and film projects. He scored Emmy nominations for his work as a whistleblower in Damages and his portrayal of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in Too Big to Fail. Most recently, Hurt became known to younger filmgoers for his portrayal of General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. He later reprised the role in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow.
Hurt began his career after he studied acting at Juilliard. After appearing on stage, Hurt got the lead role in Altered States, playing a troubled scientist. However, his career started when he starred opposite Kathleen Turner in Body Heat, a steamy noir. This transformed both him and Turner into major stars. Hurt followed that with a role in Gorky Park and joined the ensemble of The Big Chill. From 1986 to 1988 was nominated for three consecutive best actor Oscars, winning for his portrayal of a gay window dresser in Hector Babenco’s The Kiss of the Spider Woman. Roger Ebert credited him as “…a character utterly unlike anyone else he has ever played — a frankly theatrical character, exaggerated and mannered — and yet he never seems to be reaching for effects.”
Following his 1990s appearances in the TV mini-series version of Dune, Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and in M. Knight Shyamalan’s The Village, Hurt settled into a life of supporting roles. However, he still stole scenes in The Good Shepherd, Into the Wild, and A History of Violence. His current TV series Pantheon is in production.