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William Hurt is an Academy Award-winning actor known for his intense dramas and challenging roles in films such as Broadcast News and A History of Violence.
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In 1986, he received another Academy Award nomination for his turn as a teacher at a deaf school in Children of a Lesser God. His character in the film becomes involved with a deaf woman, played by Marlee Matlin. The following year, Hurt starred in the drama Broadcast News with Holly Hunter,
which earned him another Oscar nomination. He went on to give another great performance in The Accidental Tourist (1988), starring alongside Geena Davis.
In the 1990s, Hurt worked steadily on a range of projects. He worked with Woody Allen on the 1990 romantic comedy Alice, starring Mia Farrow, and then starred in Wim Wenders's futuristic tale, Until the End of the World, in 1991. In 1996, Hurt starred in a film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Anna Paquin. He also appeared in the big screen version of the popular science fiction television series Lost in Space in 1998.
In his later years, Hurt has drifted away from his leading man status. He has tackled character and supporting roles in a number of films. In the 2005 political drama Syriana, Hurt plays a former CIA operative. That same year, he earned yet another Oscar nomination—this time for best supporting actor—for his short turn in A History of Violence. In the film, Hurt plays a crime boss who catches up with his brother and tries to settle old score.
While primarily a film actor, Hurt appeared on the television show Damages with Glenn Close in 2009; for his portrayal of a corporate whistleblower on the legal drama, he earned an Emmy Award nomination. In 2011, Hurt starred in two television movie projects: as the legendary Captain Ahab in the miniseries Moby Dick, based on Herman Melville's literary classic, and as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in Too Big to Fail. Also featuring James Woods, Paul Giamatti and Cynthia Nixon, Too Big to Fail explores the 2008 economic crisis on Wall Street.
Back on the big screen, Hurt starred in the French language film J'enrage de son absence in 2012. Around the same time, he was cast in The Host (2013), a film adaptation of a science fiction novel by Stephenie Meyer.
Hurt divorced actress Mary Beth Hurt in the early 1980s. Around this time, he became involved with dancer Sandra Jennings. She later sued him for support, claiming that their relationship was actually a common-law marriage. The couple had one child together.
During the making of Children of a Lesser God, Hurt became involved with his co-star, Marlee Matlin. Matlin later claimed that it was an abusive relationship, and that they both had substance abuse issues while together. After breaking up with Matlin, Hurt married to Heidi Henderson, daughter of bandleader Skitch Henderson. He and Henderson had two children together. Hurt also has a daughter from his later relationship with French actress Sandrine Bonnaire.
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