Marlee Matlin, who starred alongside William Hurt in her Oscar-winning film Children of a Lesser God, called her ex-parter "one of a kind" at the Critics' Choice Awards Sunday evening. Hurt died on Sunday following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 71. In her memoir I'll Scream Later, Matlin accused Hurt of physical and emotional abuse during their relationship.
"You're the first person to ask me about him," the CODA star, 56, signed to an Entertainment Tonight reporter on the red carpet. "We've lost a really great actor and working with him on set in Children of a Lesser God will always be something I remember very fondly. He taught me a great deal as an actor and he was one of a kind."
Hurt's son Will announced his father's death just hours before the awards show. "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," Will said in a statement. "He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes. The family requests privacy at this time."
Matlin and Hurt worked together on the 1986 movie Children of a Lesser God, which was a critical and box office hit. It was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and Matlin became the first deaf performer to win an Oscar when she won Best Actress. The two had an off-screen relationship as well, and Matlin accused him of being abusive in I'll Scream Later. Matlin was 19 when they met and Hurt was 33.
In one passage in her book, Matlin recalled Hurt coming home around 4:30 a.m. drunk after working on Broadcast News, reports The Daily Beast. "The next thing I knew he'd pulled me out of the bed, screaming at me, shaking me," Matlin wrote. "I was scared, I was sobbing. Then he threw me on the bed, started ripping off his clothes and mine. I was crying. 'No, no, no. Please Bill, no.' The next thing I remember is Bill ramming himself inside me as I sobbed."
Matlin also described Hurt as manipulative when they were making Children of a Lesser God together. The relationship ended after a brutal fight that became violent. "I was afraid I might not survive. I pulled myself free and ran to the phone... Before I could say anything, Bill yanked the phone out of my hand and slammed it down," she wrote. "I knew I couldn't let myself go back — ever," Matlin continued. "I was terrified for two reasons: we would in all likelihood fight again, or just as bad, I might not have had the strength to leave."
Hurt issued a short statement around the time Matlin's book was published, in which he did not deny her allegations. "My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives," the actor said at the time. "Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we both have grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.0comments