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As a self-described "old drunk," the actor John Hurt nonetheless had a half-century career highlighted with memorable performances, two Oscar nominations.

Also Golden Globe and four British BAFTA awards. Success and failure were taken in stride.

When the film "Divine Rapture" shut down in 1995 after two weeks of shooting in Ireland, Debra Winger didn't want to talk and Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp had cleared out. The sole customer at the village pub was Hurt, a pint of Guinness in hand, chatting with the bartender about "I, Claudius" and life as a tax exile in County Wicklow.

"Nobody's getting paid except Marlon. I really don't see the point of getting angry," he told an Associated Press reporter. "I do see the point of getting drunk."

Hurt, 77, died Friday in London, his agent Charles McDonald said.

Knighted in 2015, he was described as inspirational, legendary, incomparable. Mia Farrow tweeted that he was one of the "finest actors of our time, and the loveliest person."

His Oscar nominations were for playing the tortured John Merrick in David Lynch's "The Elephant Man" and the heroin addict Max in "Midnight Express." Beginning with bit parts in films and television, his breakout came in 1966 as Richard Rich in Fred Zinnemann's "A Man For All Seasons," followed by his portrayal of Caligula in the BBC miniseries "I, Claudius" in 1976.

The wiry Hurt brought an uneasy humor to Kane in Ridley Scott's "Alien," immortalized by his disturbing death scene, which Mel Brooks later satirized with Hurt's help in "Spaceballs."

"He was a truly magnificent talent," Brooks wrote on Twitter.

Social media tributes included one from actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who tweeted: "John Hurt. Midnight Express. Nothing better. Ever."

Hurt was unrecognizable in perhaps his most memorable role as the lead in "The Elephant Man." He endured eight hours in the makeup chair daily to transform into John Merrick. The elaborate mask prohibited him from sleeping, lying down or even eating while it was on. His would eat his last meal midmorning as the mask was being applied — usually raw eggs mixed in orange juice — and not again until after midnight.

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