Billy loved John Hurt. The only thing about he didn't love -- but totally understood as an actor's preparation -- was that Hurt didn't shower frequently as part of his process for bringing truth to the character.
Then next year, 1979, John Hurt just about scared the black off me in a movie theater when he became a human egg at a spacecraft dinner table and suddenly, shockingly hatched an evil ALIEN. What an amazing list of big screen credits John Hurt had: MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, ALIEN, 1966's A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, THE ELEPHANT MAN, SCANDAL, and his role as Mr. Ollivander in the HARRY POTTER movies. Hurt wasn't highbrow either, which is probably why we loved him so much. He breaks me up as Jesus in Mel Brooks HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART 1. He's Jesus and Mel plays the waiter at the Last Supper. At a time when most actors were still shying away from playing openly gay characters in movies, Hurt played one in a comedy crime story. The 1982 film is called PARTNERS. Hurt plays the shy gay cop assigned to work an undercover case with a very macho hetero police detective played by Ryan O'Neal. They have to pose as a couple while they investigate some murders in West Hollywood. After the news of Hurt's death, someone wrote in an obituary, "He never gave a bad performance." Amen, on that. He was worth watching even in a lame cop buddy vehicle like PARTNERS.
The Naked Civil Servant replied, "Thank you, dear boy. That's very kind. Good-bye."