By Owen Gleiberman, Mar 13, 2022 7:33pm PT
William Hurt, who died Sunday at 71, had a look and an aura that appeared, at first, to fit all too snugly into Hollywood’s conception of what a movie star should be.
Tall and broad-shouldered, with a silky shock of wheat-colored hair, his handsome features set off by a cleft chin and a faraway gaze, he was, at a glance, the quintessence of the old-fashioned WASP he-man ideal.
(In hindsight, he looked like a blond Jon Hamm.) In movies, this sort of fellow was generally presented as a paragon of rectitude, a “strong silent type.” But there was nothing silent about William Hurt.
The first time audiences encountered him, he was floating in a sensory-deprivation tank in the loony-tunes acid-head psychodrama “Altered States” (1980), and the moment he climbed out of that tank, suffused with the visions he had seen, he couldn’t stop jabbering about them.