The Time William Hurt Stared Down A Real-Life Kidnapper
Yesterday we learned of the death of William Hurt, best known for playing an unnerving mob boss (A History of Violence), a professor who turns himself into a caveman via sensory isolation (Altered States), and a U.S. General who doesn't turn himself into a color-swapped version of the Hulk, despite rumors to the contrary (the MCU's General "Thunderbolt" Ross). Hurt may not have played the Red Hulk from the comics, but the guy never needed CGI to be intimidating -- as even his real-life kidnappers once found out.
It happened while Hurt was in Brazil in the mid-'80s, shooting The Kiss of the Spider Woman, the movie that would give him an Academy Award. (Relax, nerds: it's not a Marvel flick, so there's no hyphen after "Spider.")
Hurt was given a 36-hour break by the filmmakers and decided to use it to drive down to a small villa with a local lady friend. As they pulled into the driveway at midnight, another car pulled up behind them and blocked their exit. At first, the people in the other car pretended they were merely asking for directions, but considering one of them was wearing a ski mask, it probably didn't sound very convincing. Soon, the "head guy" was screaming about having a gun and shooting Hurt's nuts off, so it was pretty clear by then that they weren't simply looking for the nearest, uh, Brazilian equivalent of Waffle House.
Hurt and his date were tied up and shoved into a nearby house that their kidnappers had decided to loot. The actor says he was sitting there for about 45 minutes with a .38 gun to his face as the gun man's buddies stashed his car with electronics and other valuable items (considering these are bulky '80s electronics we're talking about here, there was probably a fair bit of Tetris involved). At one point, the kidnappers led Hurt and the woman to the back of the house and said something in Portuguese that caused Hurt's friend to release the contents of her bladder. She translated: "He wants us to face the wall." Hurt had seen (and been in) enough crime movies to know what that meant.
At that moment, Hurt looked at the main kidnapper and said: "I can't face the wall. If you're going to shoot me, shoot me in the face." The kidnapper didn't like that. He started screaming and "drove" his gun into Hurt's head. Hurt wasn't impressed. In his words: "I just looked at him because I want to be looking in someone's eyes when I die. Then he backed off real slow and, as he backed out the door, he said in Portuguese, 'Don't call the cops until I'm gone a half-hour or I will find you and kill you.'" We're guessing he hurried along because he didn't want them to notice that Hurt's pal wasn't the only one who needed a change of underwear now.
After the kidnappers were gone, Hurt says he did the only thing he could think of to calm himself and his date: "I threw us both into the pool." Then he called the cops anyway, later hearing that they had a gunfight with the kidnappers the next morning. Hurt never mentioned who came out on top of that gunfight, but it sounds like at least some of the kidnappers survived since he didn't share this story with the media until 2005 "for fear of reprisals." Still, we can't help imagining the main kidnapper sitting down to watch Captain America: Civil War in 2016, seeing Hurt stare down a room full of superheroes, and peeing himself all over again.
Top image: Marvel Studios