Best Place by the Fire: Some words on John Hurt and Storytelling

“Let me show you fate through the round of this ring—”


A poetic way to start a tale. Now, read it again, but this time, imagine a deep, warm voice with a slight gravely edge speaking to you.

Those words, written by Anthony Minghella, captured the short attention span of a five year old me. This was not simply because they were well-written words or the fact that they were a part of Jim Henson’s short run series “The Storyteller”. It was because the voice which spoke them mesmerized me. When John Hurt told a story, you listened.

In the wake of his passing, I re-watched this television series with a fresh sense of respect. The voice which sanctioned a hunt for the Black Cauldron, declared his humanity to a judgmental Victorian world, screamed in agony at the parasite within him (twice), raised Hellboy, helped a wand choose a wizard, and dared to tell the Time Lords “No more”, that was one of the first voices which made me want to write.

It’s a strange connection, yes, but it’s how it happened. Hurt brought Minghella’s versions old fairy tales to life by simply speaking in the way he always did. He filled each word with humor, tragedy, and adventure. It made me want to be able to put together words worthy of such a reading. And I will miss that voice.