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Remembering Actor John Hurt

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The great British actor John Hurt has died. He got his start early, said he appeared in front of an audience for the first time when he was just 9 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN HURT: I felt, you know, body and soul, as it were. But, of course, I mean, I - at that age, I didn't think in terms of being professional. I didn't know anything about it. That happened later.

SIMON: He went on to a career that spanned more than five decades and multiple genres. He gave Harry Potter his wand.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCEROR'S STONE")

HURT: (As Mr. Ollivander) I wondered when I'd be seeing you, Mr. Potter.

SIMON: He ran a dictatorship in a futuristic England in "V For Vendetta."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "V FOR VENDETTA")

HURT: (As Adam Sutler) Tonight, any protestor, any instigator or agitator will be made example of.

SIMON: And memorably, he was a victim in "Alien."

(SOUNDBITE OF "ALIEN" FILM)

SIMON: Ouch. But it was his role as the disfigured John Merrick in the 1980 film "The Elephant Man" that won John Hurt an Oscar nomination and the praise of the director David Lynch, who called him simply the greatest actor in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HURT: I haven't planned it at all to be this way. I just - I do what interests me when I'm invited and do it as well as I know how and try to get better. That's all.

SIMON: John Hurt died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 77. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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