William Hurt: Oscar-winner and Marvel star passes away

Portland, Oregon - William Hurt, the Oscar-winning actor known for Kiss of the Spider Woman, Broadcast News, and Children of a Lesser God, died Sunday of natural causes.

William Hurt in the 2018 film The Miracle Season.
William Hurt in the 2018 film The Miracle Season.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

A week before his 72nd birthday, Hurt’s death was confirmed "with great sadness" by his son, who shares his name, according to Deadline.

"We are deeply saddened to report that actor William Hurt, who played Prof. Hobby in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), has passed at 71," Spielberg’s production company Amblin Entertainment said in a statement. "As an actor, William worked from inside, projecting the humanity of his characters outward. Thank you, William, for consistently showing us through your roles where dreams are born: the heart."

In the early 1980s, Hurt secured breakout roles in the steamy crime drama Body Heat and The Big Chill. He soon landed his first Oscar nomination and win for his turn as Luis Molina in 1985’s Kiss of the Spider Woman.

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From 1986 to 1988, Hurt scored three consecutive Academy Award nominations: for Kiss of the Spider Woman, Broadcast News, and Children of a Lesser God.

He received his fourth and final Oscar nod for his supporting performance as crime boss Richie Cusack in 2005’s A History of Violence.

Hurt was also a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing General Thaddeus Ross across multiple films and series.

Accusations of abuse against co-star

Hurt's co-star in Children of a Lesser God, Marlee Marlin (l.), accused him of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
Hurt's co-star in Children of a Lesser God, Marlee Marlin (l.), accused him of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.  © IMAGO / Everett Collection

Hurt was known as a thoughtful and dedicated performer.

"If a director tells me to make the audience think or feel a certain thing, I am instantaneously in revolt," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. "I’m not there to make anyone else think or feel anything specific. I have agreed to something the whole piece says. Beyond that it is my only obligation to solve the truth of the piece. I don’t owe anybody anything – including the director."

Hurt’s reputation took a hit years later when he was accused by his co-star and ex-girlfriend Marlee Matlin of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse while working on Children of a Lesser God.

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In a 2009 interview with Access Hollywood, Matlin – who won an Oscar for her role in the movie – said she was "always afraid" of Hurt during their two-year relationship, which she detailed in her memoir I’ll Scream Later.

"I always had fresh bruises every day," she told the outlet. "And if I had a split lip, or if … I mean, there were a lot of things that happened that were not pleasant."

"My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives," Hurt said in a statement at the time.

"Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we both have grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good."

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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