Guest Column: The Importance of being William

William Hurt, March 20, 1950 – March 13, 2022

by Hilary Bowring, Contributing Editor

To be Oneself despite the distorted lens of other people’s perceptions


William Hurt even though a brilliant actor, A-listed for a while, never sought that kind of Hollywood accolade. “Au contraire” he texted: 

Most artists have to depend on recognizability to make a living.  Most start poor. They establish a wonderful beginning, “if lucky,” and then, sadly, succumb to the packaging of that first trick rather than keep growing and developing. And it’s always for the same reason – not enough grounding in their early days. Van Gogh’s grounding was his brother. Most trouble starts early.  Not enough education about the principles of art. Marketing is the enemy.  It’s the very thing that ends up diluting their creativity. It’s a great struggle to keep from eventually moldering away in the stereotypes added on by retailers exploiting any bursts of prestige. Hollywood is a machine. It’s not called an art. It’s called The Biz. The people who win big there and stay are mostly competitive attack dogs. Or people pleasers. Or a combo.”  WH

He had a life of many experiences good and bad relationships, good and bad health. Intensely private and the price of fame in his case was lack of privacy. He had no interest in getting awards etc. by the time I knew him he was older and more in his spiritual presence. He became my friend after much of his life drama had subsided, emotional drama at least. Medical issues and pain pervaded the latter part of his life yet he just kept on trucking. Worked, worked, worked. As he said “This is what I do”. I believe that ethic probably prolonged his life and it’s to our benefit to be inspired and moved by his acting sensitivity and cerebral complexity.

The importance of being William as an actor he secured completely.

In his personal life there were ups and downs, proclivities positive and negative. More often nowadays he is consistently described as being humble and approachable. Many had encounters with this man and some never realized he was a Hollywood movie star as he washed dishes anonymously at a Meditation Retreat…

He shifted his life to be of service to others not to himself.

Another aspect of being William was he encouraged others, he did that to me. For my first article in this journal, “Breaking free from Patriarchy”, he wrote, in his usual quirky style:  “Great. I wrote an appreciative reply online, but NPJ needed much personal information…” *  

Hurt went on to write: “I’d added a note about the infamous Constantine of Rome making it illegal on pain of death for anyone NOT to be Christian. Out of male jealousy against his wife’s enlightenment conversion.  But, it had to be his version of Christian. Which was patriarchal, sadistic and ultimately, as we now see the world careening toward extinction under that misbegotten idea, suicidal.  Great writing, Hilary. Thank you.   With many blessings and warm, good memories, William.”

I really get a crick in my neck looking up at you for your intelligence, boldness, spiritual center. A good crick, though. Wm”

 *(NPJ eliminated the public commentary section in 2020, which didn’t include publishing personal email addresses)

 Many people have had wonderful experiences from William Hurt being William Hurt, and some not.

I send this as a tribute to your Beautiful Being. Your magnetic actor side, your shadow side. A wonderful range of what it means to be human, complicated and vulnerable. Clever and insightful blended with disillusionment, anger and addiction. 

Enveloped in a shawl of compassion, and a strange kind of innocence.

Here’s to all our evolution as we move into the sacred space of the heart:

Mind into Heart Meditation.