On March 13, 2022, Academy Award-winning actor William Hurt passed away at the age of 71, leaving behind a family and incredible body of work that includes some of the most decorated and beloved movies to ever grace the silver screen. Over the years, Hurt gave outstanding performances in everything from classics, like Broadcast News, to some of the best Marvel movies.
One way to pay respects to the late actor is to go through his extensive filmography and highlight some of his great performances, which is what we’re going to do now with this list of William Hurt movies you can find streaming. We’ll never get another like Hurt, but at least we can look back on his life on screen.
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(Image credit: twentieth Century Fox)
Broadcast News (1987)
One part romantic comedy and one part critique of then-modern day journalism, James L. Brooks’ 1987 classic, Broadcast News, follows three talented, ambitious, and complicated journalists at a national network as they balance their blossoming careers and a complicated love triangle, all while trying to produce the nightly news.
The Broadcast News cast, which includes William Hurt, Albert Brooks, and Holly Hunter (all three were nominated for Oscars), is one of the most remarkable assembled for a journalism movie, and their performances are made all the better due to the complicated nature of their characters. This is especially true for Hurt’s Tom Grunick, a personable but dimwitted and morally ambiguous news anchor who is willing to do anything for a story.
(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)
The Big Chill (1983)
When a sudden death brings together a group of college friends who have drifted apart and gone their separate ways after graduation, their pasts, presents, and futures are brought into question as they reevaluate life over an extended weekend. Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill finds the perfect balance between comedy and drama, creating a brilliant examination of love, loss, and what it means to be a friend.
With Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger, Kevin Kline, and multiple other stars in the mix, it would be easy for someone to get lost in the shuffle. But not William Hurt’s Nick Carlton, a broken-down man who challenges his former college buddies to think about life and their decisions. Playing the most bitter yet introspective character in the large ensemble cast, Hurt turns out a performance for the ages.
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)
Children Of A Lesser God (1986)
Randa Raines’ 1986 romantic drama, Children of a Lesser God, centers on the budding romance between James Leeds (William Hurt), a new teacher at a school for the deaf, and Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin), a former student who now works as a janitor at the institution. But, love doesn’t come easy for the pair who are forced to come up with various ways to communicate and bridge the gulf between them.
The pairing of Hurt and Matlin (who won an Oscar for her performance) is outstanding throughout Children of a Lesser God, and their chemistry helps make the on-screen couple look and feel all the more real. Heartbreaking at times and endearing at others, this one can’t be missed.
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Kiss Of The Spider Woman (1985)
Trapped in a Brazilian prison cell are political prisoner Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia), and Luis Molina (Willam Hurt), who passes the time by providing a detailed summary of one of his favorite movies in hopes that it will bring joy to his cellmate’s life. Over time, the relationship becomes complicated for a multitude of reasons, in Héctor Babenco’s 1985 drama, Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Hurt received his sole Academy Award for his portrayal of the mysterious and complicated Luis Molina, and his performance remains one of the best of his career. As the true nature of his character unfolds in this complex drama, Hurt’s talents begin to shine, exposing an emotional and extremely versatile actor.
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Accidental Tourist (1988)
When his young son is murdered, Macon Leary’s (William Hurt) relationship with his wife, Sarah (Kathleen Turner), is irrevocably damaged, leading to a series of events that ends up with the broken man moving away for a time. While away, he forms a relationship with a young mother named Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis), which causes him to question everything.
Another great pairing of William Hurt and Lawrence Kasden, The Accidental Tourist takes a look at how a terrible and shocking incident can cause a man to change his outlook on life and find a way to grow as a person in the face of grief. Hurt carries with him a pain that is visible below the surface and hangs with him throughout.
(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
When the Avengers are forced to join a registry of superhumans following a series of unfortunate incidents, two of the group’s most prominent members — Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) — find themselves on opposite sides of the argument. All of this leads to the bitter breakup of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, a rift that will have lingering effects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.
One of the major players behind the scenes in Captain America: Civil War is Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) who uses the Sokovia Accords to tighten his grip on the leash of the Avengers and force the group to do his bidding, or pay the consequences. Hurt played the character multiple times throughout the MCU, but none compare to the impact he made in this consequential installment
(Image credit: Paramount Vintage)
Into The Wild (2007)
Sean Penn’s 2007 retelling of the life and death of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), Into the Wild paints a loving picture of the college graduate who left his family and affluent upbringing behind to adopt the persona of Alexander Supertramp and travel the United States, eventually ending up in the Alaskan wilderness.
On top of being one of the best survival movies, Into the Wild also features an interesting, and sometimes unsettling, family dynamic, which his highlighted by William Hurt’s portrayal of Walt McCandless, Christopher’s overbearing father, who unwittingly pushes the young man to leaving home.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
Body Heat (1981)
Lawrence Kasdan and William Hurt first worked together on the sexy neo-noir drama Body Heat, a gripping thriller about attorney Ned Racine (Hurt), who hatches a plan to kill his lover’s husband so they can run away and start a new life with all of his riches. But, as is prone to happen with the genre, things don’t go according to plan.
Despite being of William Hurt’s first movies, Body Heat is also one of his best and features a young actor who is talented beyond his years. The way in which Hurt is able to play the down-on-his-luck and untrustworthy attorney is nothing short of masterful.
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
David (Haley Joel Osment), a young robot who is the first of his kind to be programmed to show love and caring, finds himself in the in-between, not being accepted by humans or machines. Over the course of Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the android embarks upon an epic journey to find his place in the world.
William Hurt shows up as Dr. Allen Hobby, David’s ambitious creator with a bit of a god complex, who initially designed the robot to be the child that would never grow up, never get sick, and never die. Like a lot of his other characters, Hurt’s Hobby lives in a morally grey area where the concept of right and wrong is outweighed by his own ambition and dreams.
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)
One True Thing (1998)
When her mother, Kate Gulden (Meryl Streep) is diagnosed with cancer and not given long to live, talented writer Ellen Gulden (Renée Zellweger) returns home to take care of her, while her father, George (William Hurt), continues to go about his life, effectively changing the young woman’s perception of her parents. Back in her childhood home, Kate begins to see the family dynamic for what it is, for better or worse.
Carl Franklin’s 1998 family drama One True Thing is anchored by its three incredible leads, with William Hurt playing a character you just want to shake and tell, “Come on, man!” in hopes it’ll get him to see the big picture.
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)
A History Of Violence (2005)
When Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) kills two robbers at his small-town diner, he has no idea his heroic actions will lead to his dark and dangerous past coming back to haunt him. But, that’s exactly what happens in David Cronenberg’s 2005 adaptation of the graphic novel, A History of Violence.
Over the course of this tense thriller, Tom’s returns in a series of unannounced visits that only seem to become more sinister as they go on. This eventually leads to the introduction of crime boss Richie Cusack (William Hurt), a menacing figure who will stop at nothing to see this through.
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)
Dark City (1998)
Alex Proyas’ 1998 mind-bending thriller, Dark City, follows John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), a man who wakes up to find he is suspected of committing a series of murders. If trying to convince authorities he is not the killer isn’t hard enough, the man with memory issues also attempts to uncover a deep conspiracy involving aliens with mind-control technology before it’s too late.
William Hurt’s Inspector Frank Bumstead is one of the major standouts of the Dark City cast and his portrayal of a hardened detective who is more committed to the truth than numbers is brilliant in every way.
Hopefully these movies will help you remember the talented William Hurt for years to come.