Pancreatic Cancer two words in the English language guaranteed to send chills down the spine, bringing up visions of the late actor Patrick Swayze, and John Hurt has been diagnosed with this deadly disease but says he is full of optimism. The two time Oscar nominee recently completed work on an 18 minute long short, Sailcloth, The Daily Telegraph waxed lyrical about the film and Hurt’s performance in it. as well as his gloomy health forecast.
There are few actors in the world with such a wide and varied career of dissimilar roles in a range of genres. From his first part in television, in the iconic Z Cars back in 1962 to the short film Sailcloth and the upcoming projects listed in IMDb, which number 11, Hurt has worked steadily and left a lasting impression on cinema audiences the world over.
His Oscar nominations came for The Elephant Man (1981) as Best Actor and prior to that the 1979 film Midnight Express as Best Supporting Actor, it is interesting to note that the first “nod” was for his performance in a biopic based part of John Merrick’s life and the second nomination was for a “based on a true story” picture.
Hurt did get the BAFTA for both film roles and got another, on top of his 2012 “Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema,” for his work in The Naked Civil Servant in 1975. Sir John famously had an alien burst from his chest in Ridley Scott’s Alien and played in Guillermo Del Toro’s film Hellboy, based on the comics. Hurt recently played a pivotal role in Snowpiercer , another film based upon a “comic” in this case a French graphic novel.
This small slice of the long body of work from John Hurt shows just how talented and versatile this performer is and makes the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer all the more bitter and upsetting. The 75 year-old actor shows no sign of slowing down, however, he is currently filming The History of Love, which is projected for a 2016 release.
English newspaper The Guardian reports that Hurt is undergoing treatment while in the early stages of the disease and according to the actor he has good reason to be so optimistic.
Sir John says the medical team are very positive about the course of his treatment. In one of those, “can you believe it moments” the actor will be recording a BBC Radio Four play, Keith Waterhouse’s Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, something that several publications have referred to as an ultimate “irony.”
Despite the horrific news that this august actor has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his optimism does not feel misplaced and one can only hope that his distinctive voice and impressive skills will continue to be heard and seen for some time to come.
On December 5, 2013, after months of Nelson Mandela magically clinging to life against all logical expectations, the South African Government announced that the great humanitarian had died. Hence, after an overlong period of secrecy and deception, the icon was finally allowed to die. By the time it was officially announced, even the most devout believers, in the apparent lie pushed by the Mandela family and the South African Presidency, began to doubt its veracity. While the country’s denizens began the mourning process, others in the population; people who believed in Siener van Rensburg and his chilling prophecy, began to make final preparations for the “xenophobia.” Still more of the population eye their new Chinese “neighbors” and fear that they may be part of an end game solution.
On June 26, 2013 this publication received word that the great Nelson Mandela had died. An article was drafted based on information received from two different sources. It was then placed in a pending file whilst waiting for a third independent source to come forward. A decision was made to publish the news based on the integrity of the two sources who had provided our Johannesburg correspondent, Laura ONeale, with the information. Within hours of publishing the story, this website was attacked illegally from that area of the world.
The film I worked on this summer has now been made available for public viewing on Vimeo. It was filmed in July around Sidmouth, England with an intimate cast and crew. I worked with some brilliantly talented people and hopefully will work with them again. The experience was another life changer for me.
I had given up the idea of ever working in a profession that I’d been hooked on since my teen epiphany that this was the ideal occupation for me. When I reluctantly turned my back on it, I knew that I would never have the chance to prove that I still had the chops for this type of work. I was wrong about that, just as I’ve been wrong about many things in my life. One thing I think I’m right about is, I have always honestly believed that people are born to be actors, writers, directors, et al. I still do.
Just as there are people who have certain party tricks; like being able to imitate Christopher Walken or John Wayne after a couple of drinks, there are others who have a talent that they were born with. They enter the world as a sort of idiot savant. The ability; the talent, exists already. All they need is the opportunity to develop the skill required to polish and hone that innate talent. Like the joke goes, it takes practice to get to Carnegie Hall.
My month of July 2013 (my summer vacation, if you will) was filled with excitement. Not only did I get to step in front of the camera for the first time in years, I also got to prove to myself that I had not lost the urge, or the ability, to act. It was still a part of me and though I’d turned my back on it, the creativity had not left me. Nor had the imagination needed to “pull it off.”
The end result was a project that I could take pride in. All because Natasha Harmer took a chance to use an old out-of-practice actor, who could have turned out to be a ham or an actor who could not act. She writes a blog titled Films and Things, which was the name of the production company incidentally, and if you haven’t already, you should go check her out.
For those of you who want to see the film, Once Bitten, Twice Shy, just click on the link. Once you’ve seen it, drop by and let Natasha “Tash” know what you thought. Personally, I think that every single person attached to the film did a bang-em-up job, but I could be a little prejudiced.
The second thing I did in July was to travel to South Africa to track down a couple of sources who’d turned our paper, the Las Vegas Guardian Express (guardianlv.com) onto the news that Nelson Mandela was no longer with us. Despite the huge smoke screen thrown up by the world’s press, based on news released from his children who have their own reasons for not acknowledging the great man’s passing, we received information that was disturbing and obscene. We’d been told by quite a few sources that the man was really gone.
I will not go into the story, you can follow the above link to see the articles written by myself and other journalists in the paper. I was chosen, at the last minute, to fly to the country and search for the truth. I have written about my experiences and will be adding more of what I learned about the country in the paper itself.
I met people in Johannesburg who watched over me in this dangerous area of the world and treated me like a long lost family member. I travelled around the local areas, saw where the poor lived and the rich. I went to Pretoria visiting the hospital where Madiba was interred. I spoke to fellow journalists who were camped outside the hospital waiting for the next act in this tragedy to unfold.
This trip was another life changing event. It made me realise that I was addicted to the adrenaline rush. The feeling of hyper-reality that comes with the territory of increased heart rate and focussed vision. Johannesburg emits a feeling of underlying danger, somewhat akin to working in the prison service when there is trouble brewing from certain elements. You are on edge and, seemingly, aware of everything going on. Afterward, you are exhausted by all of the hyper-awareness.
I have been incredibly lucky in the time following my near brush last year with the grim reaper. I have, in essence, rediscovered myself. I’ve learned that there are some things in me that will never change. The actor in my soul will never die and my yearning for adventure, aka adrenaline addiction, will always be a constant companion. I have also rediscovered my love of writing.
I’ve written about all the above mentioned things before, but, I’ve been a bit lackadaisical with my blog of late. My work for the paper has pretty much overtaken everything in my life at the moment. But I will remember to make time for my inner actor and will soon be preparing a showreel to see if anyone else would like to hire an old “not-so-out-of-practice actor again.
Until then, my summer vacation with its adventures in acting, world news, and dangerous surroundings will be in my memory book. If I close my eyes, I can see South Africa unfold before me just a vividly as the day I arrived. It is amazing that the end result of being so close to death has made me feel more alive than ever before.
I have been truly blessed by whoever, or whatever, is in charge. I thank all of you lovely people who take the time to follow my little blog and who leave comments or like my efforts. May you all find what makes you feel truly alive in your lifetime.