William Hurt, Star Of Broadcast News And The MCU's Thaddeus Ross, Has Died At 71

Award-winning star of stage and screen William Hurt died on March 13, 2022 in his adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon. According to Deadline, Hurt's son Will shared that the actor "died peacefully, among family, of natural causes" just one week before his 72nd birthday. Though no official cause of death has been revealed at this time, Hurt was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that had spread to the bone in May 2018.

After studying theology at Tufts University, Hurt turned to acting in 1972 and joined the Juilliard School, where his classmates included Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams. He made his feature film debut in the 1980 Ken Russell body horror "Altered States," which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year. From there, he became known for his Academy Award-nominated performances in "Kiss of the Spider-Woman," "Children of a Lesser God," "Broadcast News," and "A History of Violence," the first of which earned him the Oscar.

While Hurt is also fondly remembered for his roles in "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," "The Village," and "Into the Wild," Hurt also remained active on the stage throughout his career. He appeared in several Off-Broadway productions, such as "Henry V," "Richard II," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and earned his first Tony nomination for his performance in the 1985 Broadway production of "Hurlyburly."

However, Hurt is probably most recognizable to younger audiences as General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starting with "The Incredible Hulk" in 2008, he appeared as the stubborn father of Betty Ross and future secretary of state. He reprised the role in four later movies – "Captain America: Civil War," "Avengers: Infinity War," "Avengers: Endgame," and "Black Widow" – serving as a grounding presence amid all the high-flying spectacle of the superhero franchise. With appearances spanning 13 years, Hurt had one of the longest tenures in the MCU so far.

Remembering William Hurt

When news broke of Hurt's passing, an outpouring of love came from all corners of the internet to celebrate his life and career. His "Mr. Brooks" co-star Dane Cook said, "He was delightfully sinister in this role & a lovely guy when the cameras stopped. What a career. What a remarkable body of work." 

Hurt's "Broadcast News" co-star Albert Brooks shared similar sentiments by saying, "So sad to hear this news. Working with him on Broadcast News was amazing. He will be greatly missed." Fellow MCU actor and current Hulk Mark Ruffalo (not to be confused with Hurt's first Hulk, Edward Norton) said, "Wow, another major loss to the acting community. Great actor. Great mind." And filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan shared his experience with Hurt on "The Village" by saying "he was a master of his acting craft. Every take was new and revealing."

William Hurt's character in "The Village," Edward Walker, at one point observes that "the world moves for love. It kneels before it in awe." Hurt himself put great care and love into his craft, and both the accolades he earned in his lifetime and the outpouring of grief at the news of his passing are a testament to that. Survived by his four children and with a legion of fans around the world, the great William Hurt will be greatly missed. We at /Film send our condolences to his family and loved ones.