John Hurt Actor in Harry Potter Series Dies at 77

John Hurt Actor in Harry Potter Series Dies at 77



Beloved Harry Potter actor, John Hurt, who played the wand maker Garrick Ollivander, passed away in London on Jan. 27, 2017. He was 77 years old. In 2015, Hurt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The actor was born in an English coal-mining village called Shirebrook. Hurt’s father was a Church of England priest, and his mother was an actress and engineer. The iconic actor started his journey in acting at the Academy of Dramatic Art University.

The actor was married four times. In the early 60s, he was married to his first wife, actress Anette Robertson, his second was Donna Peacock, and his third was Jo Dalton. He is survived by his fourth wife, producer Awen Rees-Myers, and his two children, by Dalton.

The iconic star’s memorable performances span over half a century and have earned the prolific actor two Oscar nominations, for playing the tortured role of John Merrick in “The Elephant Man,” and a heroin addict named Max in “Midnight Express,” for which he won the Golden Globe.

Hurt also won four British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) awards for his performances in the 1976, television film “The Naked Civil Servant,” the 1981 movie the “Elephant Man,” and “Midnight Express.” Additionally, for his portrayal of Winston Smith in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and, Rich in “A man For All Seasons,” which won seven BAFTA Awards and six Academy Awards.

He also received four other BAFTA nominations for “Aliens,” his performance as the wandmaker, Ollivander, in the Harry Potter series, and Control in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Chairmen of the  BAFTA organization, Tim Corrie stated:

John Hurt is an actor it is both exciting and fascinating to watch. He has extraordinary screen presence and brings utter conviction to every role he undertakes. He is one of a kind, an iconic figure, and BAFTA is delighted to take this opportunity to honour his outstanding contribution to cinema.

Hurt, who is a self-described old drunk, took his failures in stride along with his successes. In 1995, the film “Divine Rapture,” which was being filmed in Ireland, shut down after two weeks of shooting. Marlon Brando and Jonny Depp left the set before they could be questioned and Debra Winger offered no comment. However, Hurt, the only customer at a village pub, Guinness in hand, was chatting up a bartender about “I, Claudius” and life as a tax exile in County Wicklow.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Hurt stated that no one was getting paid for the two weeks on set except for Marlon. He went on to say he did not see the point of getting angry, but he did see the point in getting drunk.

Hurt was knighted in 2015 and is described as inspirational, incomparable, and legendary. Mia Farrow tweeted: “Finest actor of our time and the loveliest person.” Hurt also took voice roles in “Watership Down” and 1978 animated version of “The Lord of the Rings,” as Aragorn.

Potter Fans Lose Their Wandmaker

The site dedicated to the Harry Potter books and films called Pottermore asked fans to raise their hands in remembrance of Hurt. J.K. Rowling tweeted that she was sad hearing about Hurt’s death, he was deeply loved and had immense talent.

In the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone,” Ollivander was introduced to fans as the ominously weird and kinda of creepy old wandmaker. He will forever be remembered in this exchange from the movie:

  • O: “I wondered when I’d be seeing you, Mr. Potter. Seems only yesterday when your mother and father were in here buying their first wands.” Plucks a wand from the shelf.
  • O: “Ah, here we are.” Hands Potter the wand. He stares at Ollivander confused.
  • O: “Well, give it a wave.”
  • Harry waves the wand knocking many wands off shelves as a result.
  • O: “Apparently Not.” Ollivander retrieves another wand.
  • O: “Perhaps…this.” He hands the wand to Harry.
  • O: “No, no, definitely not. No matter.”
  • Ollivander retrieves the third wand.
  • O: “I wonder?” he says under his breath. Ollivander hands it to Potter. It begins to glow in the boy’s hand.
  • O: “Curious, very curious.”
  • H: “Sorry, but what’s curious?”
  • O: “I remember every wand I have ever sold, Mr. Potter. It so happens that the tailfeather that resides in your wand gave another feather, just one other. It curious that you should be destined for this wand when its brother gave you that scar.”
  • H: “… and who owned that wand?”
  • O: “We do not speak his name. The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It’s not always clear why. But I think it is clear, we can expect great things from you. After all, he-who-must-not-be-name did great things… terrible, yes, but great.”

Hurt’s death comes a year and two weeks after another iconic figure in the Harry Potter series died; Alan Rickman who played Professor Snape.

By Tracy Blake
Edited by Cathy Milne


Movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
Grand Forks Herald: John Hurt, Oscar-nominated star of ‘The Elephant Man,” dies at 77
Salon: ‘A truly magnificent talent:’ actor John Hurt dies at 77
Deadline Hollywood: John Hurt To Receive BAFTA Award For Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema

Image Courtesy of Sam’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License