1950-2022: The Best of William Hurt, in a few films

In an article about William Hurt, who died on March 13 at the age of 71, Rolling stones wrote that he was “an actor that you only meet once in a lifetime”. In fact, whether he acted as a star or in support, William Hurt had the gift of marking the imagination. In his play, however, the actor did surprisingly little, as evidenced by his five best performances – an eminently subjective selection, it goes without saying.

About the comedian’s subtle approach, Roger Ebert wrote sharply in a 1989 interview: “To almost all of his roles he gives a sense of the ordinary; the feeling that it is simply a person who is in this place at this point. It is almost meaningless. exterior during the opening scenes is what triggers the emotional outbursts later on. “

A good example can be found in The unintentional tourist (Traveling in spite of itself, 1988), the third collaboration between William Hurt and his favorite director, Lawrence Kasdan. Hurt plays an author of travel guides who struggles to come to terms with the loss of his only son, the departure of his wife (Kathleen Turner) and the attention of a dog trainer (Geena Davis). With sensitivity, the actor creates a man who survived by suppressing his emotions, but who will only restore the connection to happiness by accepting to experience them.

In the interview with Ebert, the actor confided in this regard: “You cut the capacity for grief in your life, and you cut the joy down at the same time. […] You do not have one without the other. »

In this case, such seems to be the philosophy of The great chill (That friends first, 1983), by Lawrence Kasdan, who willingly goes from laughter to tears. We follow a group of friends protesting twenty-somethings who have become middle-class-thirty-somethings gathered for the funeral of one of their own. Hurt is the most restless of the herd, but everyone gets a chance to shine.

Point of lightness

For the narrative, the actor attached greater importance to the whole than his only contribution. On Daily Actorhe confided as follows: “What I want when I read a script is to have the feeling that I want to play any character. […] What I want is to experience the feeling that I want to be a part of this project. »

Aside from not measuring the importance of the roles based on their time on screen, especially in the second half of their careers, when he became a popular supporting role, Hurt did not search for love.public through friendly characters. In fact, and unlike many actors of his caliber, he was not reluctant to lend his features to unsympathetic, even pathetic men, as in Body heat (body fevernitten enogfirs).

In his first collaboration with Kasdan, Hurt plays a lying lawyer who agrees to kill his mistress’ husband (Kathleen Turner, in her memorable debut). We are far from the romantic hero, archetype that William Hurt could have embodied if he had wished, with his high stature, his justice, and his pleasant face. But no: no easy way for him.

Moreover, we can see in his character as a photogenic journalist, but a bit stupid of broadcast News (1987) a fine parody of this type of role. In this media satire, as James L. Brooks imagines, he finds another amazing partner in the person of Holly Hunter, who plays a stressed producer.

Note that the actor was on his way back there after a rehab for alcoholism when he later opened up to washington post “Accepting it made the difference between a happy life and an unhappy life. The most important day of my life was the day I asked for help.”

Knowing this, it is not surprising that this composition remains one of the most delicious by William Hurt, who managed to combine substance and lightness.

A complete art

We are entitled to the same mix, but this time with tones of black humor, in A story of violence (A story violent, 2005). In this film by David Cronenberg, he strikes during his passage, as late as it is short, as Viggo Mortensen’s oldest gangster. Al William Hurts perfect art is there, concentrated: the latent explosion of The unintentional touristthe spineless hypocrisy of Body heatthe basic imbecility of broadcast News… Enjoyable.

Finally, it is impossible not to mention The spider woman’s kiss (Kissed spider woman, 1985), a film by Héctor Babenco, which won William Hurt the award for best male lead in Cannes and the Oscar for best male lead. He is unforgettable as a film-loving gay prisoner who falls in love with his fellow prisoner, a macho revolutionary (Raúl Juliá).

For who would have counted, yes, it does six and not five movies. For “an actor like you only meet once in a lifetime”, however, the exception is in order.

With the exception of The spider woman’s kissthe quoted movies are offered on several platforms including iTunes.

To watch in video

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