John Hurt Will Not Actually Appear in 'Darkest Hour,' Gary Oldman Reveals

When screen great John Hurt died in January at the age of 77, it was widely reported that one of his final film roles would be as Neville Chamberlain in Darkest Hour, the upcoming Winston Churchill biopic starring a nearly unrecognizable Gary Oldman in the lead role.

Oldman, however, recently revealed to Yahoo Movies that Hurt will not in fact appear in the November release directed by Joe Wright (Atonement).

“He wasn’t in it,” Oldman told us. “Sadly, John never made it to the read-through. He was going through some treatment.”

The English performer Hurt, best known for his work in A Man for All Seasons, The Elephant Man, and Alien, announced he was battling pancreatic cancer in June 2015. He died at his home in Cromer, Norfolk, three days after his 77nd birthday.

Oldman said British character actor Ronald Pickup (Prince of Persia, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) took over the role of Chamberlain in Hurt’s place. (Focus Features, the company behind the movie, confirmed the news.)

According to IMDb, Hurt has three other films that have either been completed or are in post-production: a lead role as a terminally ill screenwriter in That Good Night, and supporting parts in the thriller Damascus Cover , which stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Olivia Thirlby, and a biopic of British boxer Lenny McLean, My Name is Lenny.

Oldman and Hurt had previously collaborated on 2011’s espionage film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. (They both also appear in the franchise finale Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.)

“I adored John, and I had worked with him before, and was just thrilled to do it again with him, especially with Churchill and Chamberlain,” Oldman told us. “But he was sick. He was too sick.”

Darkest Hour opens Nov. 22.

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