John Hurt

The son of a clergyman, John Vincent Hurt was born Jan. 22, 1940, in Shirebrook, England, later escaping his restrictive life to train as a painter. He studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and spent much of his early career in the theatre, finally making a name for himself as a film actor in A Man for All Seasons (1966).

Usually opting for roles in darker works, Hurt took parts in the epic miniseries I, Claudius (as Caligula) and movies such as Midnight Express (for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination), Alien (as the chest-bursting Kane), 1984 and Scandal. Hurt earned a Best Actor nomination for his title role in The Elephant Man (1980).

Beginning in the 1990s, Hurt took on more mainstream work in films such as Contact (1997), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Hellboy (2004).