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Q&A Exclusive: John Hurt on 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'
Gag order be damned, the veteran actor doesn't exactly confirm, but also doesn't deny playing Indy's mentor Abner Ravenwood. Plus: On George Lucas's social disorder.

By Matt Mueller

Hugo Weaving and John Hurt in V for Vendetta
Hugo Weaving and John Hurt in V for Vendetta
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

With a career that spans 45 years and includes extraordinary performances in undisputed classics like The Elephant Man and 1984, John Hurt already has enough cache to comfortably sit back and enjoy his golden years. Hollywood's youth brigade refuses to let him do so, however — the 67 year-old actor is currently very much in demand for weighty supporting roles in films like V for Vendetta, Hellboy, and the upcoming Hellboy II: The Golden Army. And now Steven Spielberg is about to give the actor a colossal global recognition boost with a role in the much-anticipated return to the director's iconic franchise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The fourth installment in Spielberg and executive producer George Lucas's rousing adventure series is guarding its secrets with Stalinist zeal, but when we caught up with the actor at the Marrakech Film Festival — where he was a member of the jury — he was happy to dish. Well, within limits. The rumour mill has pegged Hurt's Crystal Skull character as everything from Albert Einstein to Sean Connery's replacement as Indiana's father — but the most recent disclosure indicates that he's playing someone very familiar to the Indiana Jones mythos, a man named Abner Ravenwood…

What keeps you interested in working in films? It seems you're busier now than you've ever been.
Thank god. I love working, so I'm very pleased about that. I always try to stay true to my reasons for doing a film, which are basically that it should stand the chance of succeeding on the level that is intended to succeed on.

How did you get involved in the new Indiana Jones movie?
I was invited to do it. I'd never met Steven Spielberg before, and he called me out of the blue. I almost felt like saying, "Oh yeah, Steven Spielberg… uh-huh." Anyway, we had a chat and he said, "Do you want to come make a film for me?" I said, "Well, that sounds very inviting." "In Peru…" I said, "In Peru! Yes, that sounds extremely inviting." We looked into it and there were various things about it — like the time I had to be on set — where I thought, "No, this isn't going to work out." But then I was advised by everybody that it'd be a good thing to do. And I did enjoy it. I mean, look, talk about standing the chance of succeeding on the level that it's intended to succeed…

Not many actors would have thought twice, as it sounds like you did, about accepting a role in an Indiana Jones adventure…
I want to be careful here, because I don't want to make it sound as if I'm anti- the film — I'm not at all. But if I was asked what I would choose to do, it would be lightweight for me, at least for that sort of time commitment. But having accepted it, I enjoyed working with Steven hugely, and we had a great cast. I just wish we'd had something of fabulous interest between each other to act!

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