William Hurt

William Hurt Photo


Date of Birth: March 20, 1950

The consummate "actor's actor;" the lanky, chameleon-like performer practically defined the profession throughout the 1980s with a remarkable string of critically acclaimed turns.

Born March 20, 1950 in Washington D.C., Hurt's upbringing was—to say the least—interesting. His father was sent to Guam by the State Department, where young William lived with his family until he was six. At that time his parents divorced, and five years later his mother married Time-Life heir Henry Luce III. Instead of following his father to Sudan and Somalia, William was now attending upscale Middlesex prep school. At Tufts University he majored in theater and theology, and met (and married) another future star, Mary Beth Hurt.

Studying drama at Julliard under the tutelage of John Houseman, Hurt soon embarked on a prolific stage career. His work with New York's prestigious Circle Repertory Company led to his first screen role, as the obsessive scientist in Altered States.

Altered States was a huge success, and catapulted Hurt into a series of critical and box office successes. Hurt seemed to push the envelope further with each role. His turn as a slightly dim lawyer smitten with Kathleen Turner in Body Heat cemented his leading man status, and he won further raves in The Big Chill and Gorky Park.

His powerfully daring performance as an imprisoned transvestite in Kiss of the Spider Woman was recognized with 1985's Academy Award for Best Actor, and he was nominated twice again in 1986 and 1987 for Children of a Lesser God and Broadcast News. William Hurt could do no wrong.

His high profile of the '80s gave way to more selective choices in the '90s. He rejected the lead in Jurassic Park, preferring to take on more interesting supporting roles in Wayne Wang's Smoke and the John Travolta-starrer Michael. He's also worked with directors Franco Zeffirelli in Jane Eyre, and Wim Wenders in Until the End of the World. In 2006, he received his fourth Oscar nomination for his supporting role in A History of Violence (2005). He continues to be one of the screen's most interesting and prolific actors and most recently appeared alongside Helen Hunt in the biopic The Miracle Season (2018).

Twice divorced, Hurt has two sons, Willie and Sam, with ex-wife Heidi Henderson. He also has a daughter Jeanne and a son Alexander, both born out of wedlock with different mothers.