Watch John Hurt in His Most Memorable Roles



John Hurt at the Seville European Film Festival in Spain in 2009.

Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters

In several of John Hurt’s best-known roles, he played the leaders of authoritarian regimes or subjects struggling underneath their tyrannical reigns.

In the BBC television adaptation of “I, Claudius” in 1976, he played the mad Roman emperor Caligula, who commanded his armies to plunder seashells from the god Neptune and appointed his horse to the Senate. (As this Caligula ruefully said to his subjects, “If you only had one neck, I’d hack it through.”)

I, CLAUDIUS – “Queen of Heaven” (Excerpt) Video by aplantage3

Mr. Hurt played a quietly noble Winston Smith, the hero of “1984,” resisting the incursions of Big Brother and the Thought Police in Michael Radford’s film adaptation of that George Orwell novel.

Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – Rats – Richard Burton – John Hurt Video by Vindobona Awstriae

He was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in “The Elephant Man,” even though he was mostly unrecognizable beneath layers of prosthetics.

The Elephant Man Final Scene Video by Peter Roos

In the movie “Alien” (1979), Mr. Hurt memorably had the invading alien burst from his stomach.

Alien Chestburster scene HD Video by _evermore

In a later bit of casting that nodded to his “1984” performance, Mr. Hurt portrayed the venomous High Chancellor Sutler, the leader of a fictional fascist political party called Norsefire, in “V For Vendetta,” a 2005 movie based on a graphic novel in which England has become a totalitarian state.

V for Vendetta High Chancellor Scenes Video by Kayla Wallace

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