William Hurt, Oscar-Winner and 'Broadcast News' Star, Dead at 71

William Hurt, the Oscar-winning actor who delivered countless acclaimed performances throughout an incredible career, has died. He was 71. Hurt won an Oscar for his performance in the 1985 movie Kiss of the Spider Woman and was later nominated for roles in Children of a Lesser God, Broadcast News, and A History of Violence.

"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," his family said in a statement to Deadline. "He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes. The family requests privacy at this time." Hurt's friend Gerry Byrne also confirmed his death to Variety. Hurt revealed in 2018 that he had terminal prostate cancer, which spread to the bone. 

Hurt was born on March 20, 1950, in Washington, D.C. He first attended Tufts University to study theology, but he soon joined the Juilliard School to study acting instead. He began acting professionally on stage in 1977 and did not make his film debut until 1980 when he starred in Ken Russell's Altered States. His breakout role came in Lawrence Kasdan's critically acclaimed Body Heat, a scorching neo-noir co-starring Kathleen Turner. He reunited with Kasdan in 1983 for The Big Chill, which kept him on the path to becoming one of the biggest male stars of the 1980s. 

In 1985, Hurt starred in Kiss of the Spider Woman as Luis Molina, a homosexual imprisoned during the Brazilian military dictatorship. Hurt's performance won critical acclaim and earned him several awards throughout the 1985 awards season, including the Oscar for Best Actor. He also received the Best Actor award at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. 

Hurt continued to rack up important parts throughout the rest of the 1980s. He starred opposite Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God, then joined Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks in James L. Brooks' biting media comedy Broadcast News. He worked with Kasdan again on The Accidental Tourist and I Love You to Death

Hurt also had a relationship with Matlin, who accused him of being physically abusive and drug abuse when they were together in her 2009 autobiography. "My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we have both grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good," Hurt said in a statement after Matlin's book was published.

In the 1990s, Hurt successfully transitioned to playing character roles. He earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. In 2008, he starred as Thaddeus Ross in The Incredible Hulk and reprised the role in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow

Throughout his career, Hurt also starred in several TV shows. He earned Emmy nominations for his roles in Damages and Too Big to Fail. He recently starred in Prime Video's Goliath and Apple TV+'s Mythic Quest.

"I'm not an actor, I'm a person," Hurt told The Independent of Ireland in 2004. "Sometimes you have to challenge the dependencies before the rot sets in. Sometimes it's the thing that holds you up in the middle of the night in a dark storm and you only have habits. You don't have thoughts or inspiration or guidance, you just have habits. That's why you have to make those habits good habits – because they're gonna stand for you when your body and soul are weak. Some of my good habits are the things I stopped. I stopped smoking, I stopped drinking."  

Hurt was married and divorced twice, first to actress Mary Beth Hurt, then to Heidi Henderson. He also had relationships with Sandra Jennings and Sandrine Bonnaire. He had four children, two with Henderson, one with Jennings, and one with Bellaire.