This one goes out to reader Susan, who suggested it on Facebook! John Hurt played the wand-maker Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter movies and the War Doctor in Doctor Who, as well as being a major voice actor. But we’re here for his historical costume roles, which range from Shakespearean to the World Wars and more.
Rich in A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Davey Haggart in Sinful Davey (1969)
Franz in The Pied Piper (1972)
Joshua Harlborough in Wessex Tales, “A Tragedy of Two Ambitions” (1973)
Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant (1975)
Caligula in I, Claudius (1976)
Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1979)
John Merrick in The Elephant Man (1980)
William C. Irvine in Heaven’s Gate (1980)
Jesus in History of the World: Part I (1981)
The Fool in King Lear (1983)
Montrose in Rob Roy (1995)
John Scholfield in Dead Man (1995)
Dr. Iannis in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)
Professor Oxley in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York (2009)
The Chorus in The Hollow Crown (2012)
Christopher Marlowe in Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Siegfried Sassoon in The Pity of War: The Loves and Lives of the War Poets (2016)
What’s your favorite of John Hurt’s historical costume movie & TV roles?
I adore John Hurt! Creepiest Caligula ever! And the history may not be terribly accurate, but I, Claudius is one of my favorite BBC series of all time. My mom and I used to play a game we called “Anglophile Bingo” when watching anything British, where we tried to remember where we’d seen the actors before. We found everyone could be linked back to I, Claudius eventually (kind of like a British version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon). So much marvelous talent in one series!
The photo you’ve picked for Wessex Tales isn’t John Hurt, it’s David Troughton.
I loved JH in both the Quentin Crisp films and in I, Claudius. His voice is so distinctive, it’s instantly recognizable. He’s one of those actors, that even though the film, etc is rubbish, you still enjoy watching and listening to him. Well, I do anyway. Thanks for picking him.
David Troughton is of course ironically son of Patrick Troughton who was Number 2 Dr Who. I love Toughton, he is such a great character actor and is worthy of his own MCM!
It’s Caligula in I Claudius. I enjoyed his portrayal. He goes from being merely eccentric to completely bonkers in a blink of an eye. Of course, it was really an ensemble cast.
Fabulous man! I first really noticed him in Quentin Crisp, then of course in I Claudius [or ‘I Clavdivs’ as it’s known in our house because we’re so damn funny]. Brilliant actor, and oh! That voice!
Heh. That’s what we called it too !
Love John Hurt, RIP. I don’t think the picture from Wessex Tales is him, though.
Oh my, Caligula. shudder. Another one gone too soon.
I love John Hurt as an actor and by all account he was a warmhearted human being. Equally comfortable in frock flicks and other roles.
I will say you do yourself a disservice by missing Dead Man (1995) as a “Western”. It’s part of the “anti-Western” or Revisionist Western sub-genre. It’s as far away from dusty cowboys meeting at high street for a shootout as you get. I hate Westerns and loved this surreal send-up of the genre.
Likewise Heaven’s Gate (1980) is not a typical Western (though a flawed, meandering epic). Gorgeous to behold, great subject matter, unconventional villains, if a bit tedious. Another Western for people who don’t like Westerns.
He also voiced the dragon in Merlin…
Heaven’s Gate wasn’t just a Western – it was the Western which went so ruinously over budget (costing $44 million for an initial budget of $11.6 million) and made so little at the box office that it nearly killed the genre along with its director’s career, its studio and the “auteur system” of filmmaking. (Its production also allegedly killed a bunch of horses, ick.)