Sunday March 13, 2022
William Hurt (1950-2022)
Hurt in “Broadcast News”: the devil then, benign now.
He kind of leapt right into it, didn't he? At least on the screen, there wasn't a lot of dues-paying. He did a couple of episodes of “Kojak” in '77, then a mini-series and another guest spot; and then it was “Altered States” (boom), and “Body Heat” and “Eyewitness” (boom boom). Now he was a star. He had a helluva run: “Big Chill,” “Gorky Park,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (Oscar), “Children of a Lesser God” (Oscar nom), and “Broadcast News” (nom). That was followed by “Accidental Tourst” and Woody Allen's “Alice.” And when the '80s ended, his star turn kinda did, too.
Oh sure, he did one of those privileged-men-brought-low movies of 1991, “The Doctor,” to go with Harrison Ford's “Regarding Henry,” which blah, and “Until the End of the World,” which was huh, and then he an I lost touch. We caught up with “Smoke” in 1995, which was mostly Harvey Keitel, and “One True Thing” in 1998, which was mostly Meryl Streep and Renee Zellwegger. A few years later he got another Oscar nom, this time in supporting, for playing a crime boss in “A History of Violence.” He kept veering away from the white-collar WASP roles that made him famous. Beginning in 2008, he began playing Gen. “Thunderbolt” Ross in the Marvel movies.
This is the wrong place to say it but I never quite got him. Women said he was good-looking and sexy but I never saw it or felt it. His screen personality just didn't jibe with me. It was like his characters were annoyed with things beyond the scope of the movie and maybe I felt he was annoyed with me. In real life, he came from a privileged background and maybe I felt that, too. He was just too blonde for me, and not in the e.e. cumming way. On the other hand, I thought he was great in “Broadcast News” as the shallow anchorman who would dumb us down bit by bit and ruin America. Now, of course, in the wake of Fox News and Facebook, Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson, his character seems benign. You watch it and go, “Those were the days, my friend.”
Here's a nice tribute from Mark Harris:
He was only 71. More here. Rest in peace.