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Actress Marlee Matlin paid tribute to late actor and ex-partner William Hurt as a ‘great actor’ and ‘one-of-a-kind’ man during an uncomfortable red carpet interview on Sunday night – 13 years after she accused him of brutally raping and beating her during their two-year relationship in the mid-80s.
The 56-year-old CODA star, who is deaf, appeared lost for words after being asked about Hurt’s passing by an ET reporter at the Critics Choice Awards, shrugging her shoulders and raising up her hands, before signing: ‘You’re the first person to ask me about him.’
After a brief pause, she then continued: ‘We’ve lost a really great actor and working with him on set in Children of a Lesser God will always be something I remember very fondly,’ Matlin said of Hurt, who she dated for two years. ‘He taught me a great deal as an actor and he was one-of-a-kind.’
The latest: Marlee Matlin, 56, had a subdued reaction when asked about the death of her ex William Hurt at 71 as news of the actor’s death broke Sunday
The Oscar-winning actress, who initially met Hurt on the set of Children of a Lesser God, had accused Hurt of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in her 2009 book I’ll Scream Later.
In the book, she detailed an instance of sexual assault she said occurred while Hurt was making the film Broadcast News.
She wrote in the book that Hurt ‘came home around 4:30 A.M. drunk,’ according to The Daily Beast.
‘The next thing I knew he’d pulled me out of the bed, screaming at me, shaking me,’ Matlin said. ‘I was scared, I was sobbing. Then he threw me on the bed, started ripping off his clothes and mine. I was crying. “No, no, no. Please Bill, no.” The next thing I remember is Bill ramming himself inside me as I sobbed.’
The CODA star walked the red carpet at the Critics Choice Awards Sunday at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in LA Sunday
Matlin said of Hurt, ‘He taught me a great deal as an actor and he was one-of-a-kind’
Matlin added, ‘We’ve lost a really great actor and working with him on set in Children of a Lesser God will always be something I remember very fondly’
Matlin opened up about her relationship with Hurt in a 2009 interview with Access Hollywood, saying she ‘was always afraid… of him.
‘But I loved him. I did. Or maybe I thought I did. But look, I was 19, he was 35,’ she said, adding that they ‘were together for two years.’
When asked about physical abuse, Matlin said she ‘always had fresh bruises everyday … and if I had a split lip, or if… I mean, there were a lot of things that happened that were not pleasant.’
She said she did not considering filing charges against the actor at the time as she was dealing with addictions to marijuana and cocaine she subsequently sought treatment for.
‘I was so wrapped up in his world and my drugs,’ she said. ‘The drugs took over my life, took over my brain. I was 19 and I was alone in New York City. I had no friends there except my drug dealer.
‘I could say that I understand how women are afraid to leave an abusive relationship. They should, but at the same time, I understand how they don’t know how.’
The Oscar-winning actress initially met Hurt on the set of 1986’s Children of a Lesser God
The former couple was snapped in LA at a post-Oscar’s party in 1986, after Hurt had won an Academy Award for his role in the 1985 motion picture Kiss of the Spider Woman
The Morton Grove, Illinois native also detailed an incident with Hurt that occurred after she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Children of a Lesser God.
She said in the book that he told her, ‘What makes you think you deserve it? There are hundreds of actors who have worked for years for the recognition you just got handed to you. Think about that.’
Matlin said Hurt also suggested she take acting classes following her Academy Award win.
Hurt subsequently responded to the claims in a statement in 2009, saying, ‘My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we both have grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good.’
Matlin, who has also worked on Family Guy, Quantico and Switched at Birth, opened up last summer about penning the book in an interview with The Guardian.
The former couple dated for two years in the mid-1980s after meeting on Children of a Lesser God
Hurt’s son Will confirmed the actor’s passing at 71 in a statement Sunday. The actor was snapped in 2016 in LA
Asked if it was difficult for her to recall the memories for the book, Matlin said, ‘I could not wait to tell my story, to talk about what I went through.
When asked if she was concerned that her career would be impacted by the claims, Matlin said, ‘I didn’t even give it a second thought, because it was the truth. It was my truth – and up to me to tell it my way.’
She said she ‘could understand the anger’ and the ‘cry for help’ amid the multiple allegations against dozens of high-powered men in show business during the #MeToo movement in 2017.
‘I applauded each person who came out and talked about their experiences and understood that it isn’t easy,’ she said. ‘People got blacklisted – it happened to some of those actresses. If it happened to you, have a right to talk about it.’
Hurt’s son Will confirmed the actor’s passing at 71 in a statement Sunday.
‘It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of William Hurt, beloved father and Oscar winning actor, on March 13, 2022, one week before his 72nd birthday,’ he said. ‘He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes. The family requests privacy at this time.’
Hurt had announced in 2018 that he was diagnosed with with terminal prostate cancer that had spread to his bones.