As writer Giles De’Ath in 1997’s Love and Death on Long Island, John Hurt uttered what is probably my favorite line of his from all 206 or so of his credits. Asked if he’d consider getting with the times and using a word processor, he exclaimed, “I’m a writer! I write! I don’t process words!” It may be a semantic difference, but it’s one that comes to mind now, as it’s very easy to write down all of his classic roles and say they were great; harder, however, to process the words that may explain what his loss means.Hurt’s acting career begin with a series of small TV roles, building to more prestige parts like Caligula in I, Claudius, but it was in 1978 that he really put himself on the nerd map–albeit in voice-over form–with the double-whammy of Hazel in Watership Down and Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings. We all know what came next: as Kane, he became the first actor to be face-hugged and chest-bursted by the xenomorph in the original Alien. He was about to turn 40, and stardom was finally fully upon him. There followed, right away, The Elephant Man, Heaven’s Gate, and History of the World Part I. While still doing prestige projects like King Lear and 1984, he was the voice of the Horned King in Disney‘s The Black Cauldron, and reprised his Alien role for Spaceballs in 1987.Perhaps our most lingering memory of him will be as the War Doctor on Doctor Who, a dark and world-weary hidden alias for our favorite Time Lord who had dropped his chosen moniker when forced to fight wars rather than help people. We bought as somebody who had already lived 8 iconic lives, because to us, of course, he had and more.Hurt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years ago, and while he was reported as saying he and his doctors were optimistic, the prognosis with that particular disease is rarely good news. He kept working nonetheless, with four films as yet unreleased, per imdb, including a role as Neville Chamberlain in Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour. It’s an ironic final role for a man best known for his famous last words as UK prime minister.Hurt never failed to deliver–the moment you saw or heard him, you know that whatever story you were watching was about to kick it up a notch. It’s sad that we’ve lost him, but he left us with hours upon hours of greatness, and odds are there are lots of things he’s done that you still haven’t seen. Maybe look a few of them up.In the meantime, share your favorite memories of the great man in comments below.