John Hurt — born January 22nd, 1940 — was an English actor whose career spanned over half a century. He made three films of libertarian interest, all of them focused on the dangers of totalitarian states, and all of them among the most dead-on libertarian films ever made. Two are included in this website’s top 25 list and the third is included in other libertarian top lists.
In 1982, Hurt starred in the Disney Classic Night Crossing, the true story of an heroic and ingenious father who organized an escape for his family from East Germany to the West via a homemade hot air balloon. This suspenseful Disney movie is a terrific family film and a good reminder of what life was like for ordinary Germans under socialism.
He made the powerful film 1984 in that very year. Based on the Orwell novel, it depicts a future totalitarian society—bleak in every aspect, thoroughly controlled, and impossible to escape. The novel was intended as a warning on the dangers of concentrated power. John Hurt helped spread that message to a new generation. This is considered the definitive 1984 film adaptation.
And in 2005, John Hurt acted in V for Vendetta, which in that year won a special Prometheus Award. About the film, the Libertarian Futurist Society commented: “The movie is so full of anti-authoritarian messages that it is hard to see them all in only a single viewing. Any movie about fear and the use of fear to control a populous and the resulting tyranny would be of interest to libertarians. One as well made and timely as V for Vendetta with such a fine script, great acting and focused directing deserves our attention.”
John Hurt lived a life in which he appreciated his freedom and bristled at encroachments on it, particularly with regard to political correctness. To judge by the film roles he chose, he was one of those people with, at the very least, anti-authoritarian instincts, and a desire for people to simply be more tolerant and kinder to each other (he also starred in Elephant Man and The Naked Civil Servant).
In 2017, he died of pancreatic cancer. But his memorable performances and the characters he portrayed live on.