Legendary British actor John Hurt has died at the age of 77.
Although the star was in remission after battling pancreatic cancer in 2015, he had continued to struggle with health problems and his wife Anwen Hurt confirmed that he sadly passed away at his Norfolk home on Wednesday (Jan. 25). In a statement, she wrote: "John was the most sublime of actors and the most gentlemanly of gentlemen with the greatest of hearts and the most generosity of spirit. He touched all our lives with joy and magic and it will be a strange world without him."
John, who was best known for his roles in The Elephant Man, Alien and Doctor Who, appeared in over 120 films as well as extensive television and theatre roles during his career, and even received a knighthood in 2015 for his services to drama. He had previously opened up about his acting process, telling film critic Geoff Andrew: "The only way I can describe it is that I put everything I can into the mulberry of my mind and hope that it is going to ferment and make a decent wine. How that process happens, I'm sorry to tell you I can't describe." He had also spoken about his cancer diagnosis back in 2015, telling Radio Times: "I can't say I worry about mortality, but it's impossible to get to my age and not have a little contemplation of it. We're all just passing time, and occupy our chair very briefly."
Friends and admirers of the Bafta-winning actor took to social media to pay tribute to him in a variety of touching messages. Director Mel Brooks spoke about one of John's most famous roles as the Elephant Man. "No one could have played The Elephant Man more memorably," he wrote. "He carried that film into cinematic immortality. He will be sorely missed." John was also well known for his role as Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter franchise, and JK Rowling paid tribute on Twitter. "So very sad to hear that the immensely talented and deeply beloved John Hurt has died," she wrote. "My thoughts are with his family and friends."
Actress Kathy Burke shared a touching story about meeting the star for the first time. She wrote: "I was only on the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for a few days. On one of those days I found myself sharing a car to set with John Hurt….My mind was racing and whirling with all the great work I'd seen him do. [I said,] 'John, can I just say you have been consistently brilliant in everything you do and I couldn't sit here next to you without saying so, I'd never forgive myself if I didn't. I love you and I want to thank you.' The drive shouted, 'Hear hear!' John beamed, kissed my hand and with that magnificent throaty voice said, 'Well what a delightful way to start the day.'"