Marvel has spearheaded tributes to William Hurt as “an incredible talent” following the Academy Award-winning actor’s death at age 71.
The actor died a week before his 72nd birthday peacefully and of natural causes, according to a statement shared online by his son Will.
“Rest in peace to an incredible talent William Hurt, beloved Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross in our Marvel Cinematic Universe,” the official Marvel Studios account tweeted.
Hurt first portrayed Ross opposite Edward Norton in the 2008 film Incredible Hulk, and later reprized the role in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow.
But it was his efforts decades earlier that earned him critical acclaim: He was nominated for a best actor Oscar three years in a row for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1985, Children of a Lesser God in 1986 and Broadcast News in 1987.
He won the Oscar for Best Actor and the Bafta for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1985.
Ben Stiller said he hoped Hurt, who befriended Stiller’s father Jerry in 1984 when the pair starred together in the original Broadway production of David Rabe’s Hurlyburly, “was laughing somewhere now” with Stiller’s deceased parents. Stiller, Jerry, and Anne Meara.
“He was very nice to my sister and me. He spent time in our apartment and came to visit my parents in Nantucket. He talked to us about acting, and the crest or process. He talked to us as if we were adults, not children of his friend It had a huge impact on both of us,” Stiller tweeted.
“Watch his movies if you can and you’ll see a different kind of movie star, for whom work was more important than status. He did a great job. I hope he and Anne and Jerry are laughing somewhere now.”
Other industry insiders described the death as a “great loss” and shared personal experiences of working with Hurt.
Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo wrote that it was “another huge loss to the acting community. great actor great mind,” while Marvel alumna Kat Dennings tweeted, “Ughggghhh I love William Hurt WHY.”
Hurt’s fellow Best Actor Oscar winner Russell Crowe reflected on his experience playing the lead hero in Sir Ridley Scott’s 2010 film Robin Hood alongside the American.
“On Robin Hood, I was aware of his reputation for asking character based questions, so I compiled a file on the life of (Hurt’s character) William Marshall,” Crowe tweeted.
“He looked for me when he got to the set. I handed him the stack. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a bigger smile. BREAK.”
Comedian Patton Oswalt said that Hurt was “a more than brilliant stage and screen actor.”
“Then he went and made an appearance on @TheKOQ and he was so deadpan and understated and hilarious. ‘This is a good cake. And I’m not a cake guy. BREAK.” Hey he wrote.
American actor Albert Brooks, who appeared alongside him on Broadcast News, wrote: “RIP William Hurt. So sad to hear this news.
“Working with him at Broadcast News was amazing. He will be greatly missed.”
Actress Bryce Dallas Howard, who starred alongside Hurt in M Night Shyamalan’s 2004 film The Village, said Hurt’s “undeniable screen presence broke the mold a thousand times.”
In a post on Instagram, he added that the actor was “someone who gave everything and went out of his way to support me and others. I will always remember his generosity of spirit and his love of stories and truth – that passion ignited the same love of stories for me.”
Scottish star Alec Newman, who starred in the 2000 miniseries adaptation Dune, tweeted: “Absolutely heartbroken to learn that William Hurt has passed away. I cannot begin to express how much I learned from the great man. He was extraordinary and I was very lucky to have worked with him and spent time. Go well sir. Thank you very much.”
Steven Spielberg’s film and television producer Amblin tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to report that actor William Hurt, who played Professor Hobby in Steven Spielberg’s AI ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001), has passed away at the age of 71. Thank you, William, for constantly showing us through your work where dreams are born: the heart.”
The Juilliard School graduate was again nominated for an Oscar, this time for best supporting actor, for his performance in the 2005 crime thriller A Tale of Violence.
Hurt was accused of physical and verbal abuse by his ex-partner Sandra Jennings in 1989 and the same by Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, his girlfriend in the mid-1980s, in her 2010 memoir I’ll Scream Later.
The actor responded to Matlin with a statement released to Access Hollywood at the time, saying, “My own recollection is that we both apologized and we both did a lot to heal our lives. Of course, I apologized and apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we’ve both grown.”
Star Trek star Jonathan Frakes seemed to acknowledge Hurt’s history when he described him as a “complicated, compelling, brilliant actor.”
Hurt revealed in 2018 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread to his bones.
His family requested privacy after his death.