Sir John Hurt, Harry Potter and Elephant Man actor, dies aged 77

Video: John Hurt, seen with his wife Anwen in 2005, had an acclaimed career spanning six decades. (ABC News)

Oscar-nominated film, theatre and television actor Sir John Hurt has died at the age of 77, his agent Charles McDonald has confirmed.

He is survived by his wife Anwen Rees-Myers, a producer and casting director he married in 2005, and two children from his third wife, Jo Dalton.

Hurt was born in the coal-mining village of Shirebrook in England on January 22, 1940.

Beginning on television in the early 1960s, he steadily built a screen career that broke through into stardom with his portrayal of English writer Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant in 1975.

He won further fame with Caligula in I, Claudius (1976) and the titular John Merrick in The Elephant Man (1980), one of his most famous roles.

His place in popular culture was cemented when he became the first to die in Alien (1979) when the alien burst through his chest, a scene famously planned by director Ridley Scott so that only Hurt knew what would happen, ensuring honest reactions from the rest of the cast.

External Link: John Hurt, playing Kane, has an alien burst out of his chest in the 1979 movie Alien.

In recent years he played wand salesman Ollivander in three Harry Potter movies and the Doctor, as The War Doctor, in two episodes and a web mini episode of Doctor Who in 2013.

External Link: John Hurt as Mr Ollivander in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

External Link: The eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) regenerates into the War Doctor, played by John Hurt, in 2013.

He most recently appeared in the Jackie Onassis biography Jackie, which has been nominated for three Oscars, but has other projects in post-production.

Among his more than 200 screen credits he also had a diverse career as a voice actor, lending his distinctive raspy tones to a dragon in the Merlin TV series, Aragorn/Strider in the 1978 animated Lord of the Rings (the role portrayed on-screen by Viggo Mortensen) and two central characters in two different adaptations of the classic book Watership Down — Hazel in 1978 and General Woundwort in 2000.

He was nominated for two Oscars — as Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Elephant Man, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Midnight Express (1978) — and in 2005 was nominated for an AFI for Australian film The Proposition. He won numerous other awards throughout his career, including a Golden Globe and four BAFTAs.

External Link: John Hurt in the Romeo and Juliet scene from the Elephant Man, 1980.

Cancer interrupted return to stage

In 2015 Hurt was treated for pancreatic cancer.

He announced that he was clear of cancer later that same year, and planned a return to the West End stage — for his first appearance in a decade — in 2016 to star opposite Kenneth Branagh in The Entertainer.

However, he was forced to withdraw after his doctor advised him he was not yet ready for a long production.

In July 2015, he was knighted. He said at the time that he wished his parents had been alive to see him receive the honour.

His official website and his Facebook and Twitter accounts have been closed.

'A truly magnificent talent'

Colleagues and friends of the beloved actor have tweeted their condolences.

External Link: The world pays tribute to the late Sir John Hurt

photo Sir John Hurt, Harry Potter and Elephant Man actor, dies aged 77 images

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