Academy Award-winning actor William Hurt, who rose to fame in the ’80s with films including The Big Chill and Broadcast News has died. He was 71.
In 2018, the actor disclosed a diagnosis with terminal prostate cancer while advocating for side effect-free treatments. In a statement to Deadline confirming his death, the Hurt family said: “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.”
William Hurt was born on March 20, 1950, in Washington, DC, his father working for government agencies, including the State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and his mother for Time Inc. He briefly studied at Tufts University before attending Juilliard School.
Hurt made his film debut in 1980’s Altered State, earning him critical acclaim. However, his breakout role came the following year with Body Heat. In the erotic thriller, he played a lawyer who embarks on an affair with a married woman and conspires to kill her husband so they can run away together—before things go awry. The film marked the first of four times Hurt teamed with director Lawrence Kasdan throughout the ’80s.
During the mid-’80s, Hurt earned Oscar Nominations for Best Actor for three consecutive years, for 1985’s Kiss of the Spider Woman, which he won for; 1986’s Children of a Lesser God; and 1987’s Broadcast News. But he was likely best known in recent years for his role as Thaddeus Ross in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He originated the role in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. As the lone carryover from that film, he appeared in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and most recently, 2021’s Black Widow.
Hurt dated his much younger Children of a Lesser God co-star Marlee Matlin for two years during the mid-’80s. In her 2009 memoir I’ll Scream Later, the Oscar-winning actress recounted their allegedly abusive relationship, noting the actor’s emotional and physical abusive. In one of the most jarring portions of the memoir, she says she was sexually assaulted by Hurt.
Hurt never publicly disputed anything Matlin said of their relationship. In a 2009 statement, he told E! News, “My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we have both grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good.”
In the wake of his passing, Marvel Entertainment paid tribute to the actor on Twitter. The post read, “Rest In Peace to an amazing talent William Hurt, beloved Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in our Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
Hurt is survived by four children.
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