Marlee Matlin tells of abuse by William Hurt: ‘Fresh bruises every day’

Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin dated her co-star in Children of a Lesser God, William Hurt, over 20 years ago. In her new biography, the 43 year-old mother of four details the abuse she suffered at the hands of aptly named Hurt during their relationship. Matlin told Access Hollywood that she was just 19 when she dated then 35 year-old Hurt and that she was addicted to cocaine and pot at the time. She said she “always afraid of him” and “had fresh bruises everyday” due to his unrelenting abuse:

At age 21, she became the first deaf actress to win an Oscar, for her role in “Children of a Lesser God.”

On her arm that night was her co-star, William Hurt. And in her new book, “I’ll Scream Later,” Matlin chronicles what she claims happened with Hurt that night and the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of the actor.

“I was afraid. I was always afraid… of him,” Matlin told Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell. “But I loved him. I did. Or maybe I thought I did. But look, I was 19, he was 35.”

The stars first met while filming “Children of a Lesser God” and their chemistry was electric – onscreen and off.

“We had an affair that night, the last day of the audition,” Matlin continued. “We were together for two years. We lived together and it was one of the most… He’s one of the most complex persons that I’ve ever dealt with. But, at the time, living with him was different than anything I’ve ever experienced.”

The two shared a passionate relationship. However, at times, Matlin claims it turned dangerous.

“How bad was the abuse?” Nancy asked.

“I always had fresh bruises everyday,” the actress revealed. “And if I had a split lip, or if… I mean, there were a lot of things that happened that were not pleasant.”

In her new book, Matlin recounts one of the couple’s fights, where she claims Hurt threw her on the bed and ripped off her clothes while she sobbed, “No, no, no. Please Bill, no.”

“Did you ever thing about filing charges against him?” Nancy asked.

“No, not at the time. I was so wrapped up in his world and my drugs. 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,” Matlin explained.

At the time, Matlin admits she was addicted to cocaine and pot, while Hurt was an alcoholic, but later sought treatment through Alcoholics Anonymous.

“I could say that I understand how women are afraid to leave an abusive relationship,” she continued. “They should, but at the same time, I understand how they don’t know how.”

[From Access Hollywood, site has automatic video]

Hurt is off the wagon again. He reportedly assaulted a guy in a NY bar in September, grabbing his privates. When the bartender tried to cut him off, he became verbally and physically abusive with him and refused to leave.

It’s heartbreaking to hear that Matlin suffered such abuse as a teen from this creep. Over 20 years later, she is finally is able to tell her story and hopefully help other women who feel trapped in abusive relationships. Some commenters on the Huffington Post have expressed skepticism at Matlin’s revelation after all this time, saying that it’s timed to increase book sales. It baffles me that people would take that stance, but there are still those who defend Chris Brown so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s understandable that it would take her this long to come out with what must have been a painful secret. This is her story and after all she went through she’s more than entitled to tell it when she’s comfortable.

Matlin is now married to a police officer and lives in LA with her family. They have four children, Sarah, 13, Brandon, 8, Tyler, 6, and Isabelle, 5. She was a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars” last year and stars on Showtime series “The L Word.” Hurt, 59, is divorced from his only wife and has four children by three different women. He currently stars on the FX series “Damages” with Glenn Close. Maybe his waning career will take a much-deserved hit after this news is out. It was 20 years ago, but I’m still interested to see if he issues a statement.

Marlee Matlin is shown promoting her book at Borders Columbus Circle in New York on 4/13/09. Credit: PRPhotos. She is also shown with her husband, Kevin Grandalski on 9/18/04. William Hurt is shown on 7/14/08. Credit: WENN.

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64 Responses to “Marlee Matlin tells of abuse by William Hurt: ‘Fresh bruises every day’”

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  1. lady garden says:

    awww shit ;[

  2. Dorothy says:

    I don’t like that she is coming out 20 years later naming names.

    If she cares that he could be abusing other women she should encourage him to get help privately! She is only using this now for publicity.

    I don’t think any man should lay hands on a women but this was 20 years ago and I don’t see the benefit for anyone… except for book sales!

    • pandabear says:

      It’s IN the book. She’s on a book tour. Of course people are going to latch on to this.

      I say name names, abusers are usually serial abusers and maybe you’ll save the next woman.

      This guy beat up a deaf teenager 16 yrs younger than him. Let him hang.

  3. santacruz says:

    Ditto Dorothy.

  4. J-Lin says:

    Domestic abuse is a hot topic since the Chris/Rhinana incident. Maybe she thought this would boost her sales.

    Despite his private life, William Hurt is a great actor.

  5. geronimo says:

    Addiction and abuse go hand in hand so can’t see any reason for this not to be true. I’m a big William Hurt fan but he does seem to have his demons (possibly why he’s so intense on screen.) Just not sure what her motivations are in revealing it all now.

    • John Wayne Lives says:

      What he said. Abuse and addiction are ugly in many forms. And people do ugly things when they’re in the grip of them. I would just love to hear him say, “Yes, it’s true. I was an ugly addict.” I would respect him so much.

  6. j. ferber says:

    Good for her for naming names 20 years later. She owes him nothing and the idea of encouraging him “to get help privately” is friggin’ ridiculous. The only “help” he needs is jail. Imagine any other crime in which people say you need “help” and jail time is out of the question. Maybe you’d get sympathy for your “problems,” too. Guess you wouldn’t be inclined to stop, would you, if society colluded with you and condoned your actions? Like, “Bank robbers need help. God, that money is just sitting there in the bank, waiting to be stolen, provoking the poor robber, whaling on him mentally. Dirty money deserves to be stolen anyway. Bitchass money.”

  7. Wif says:

    tee hee hee. “Bitchass money.” That’ll have me laughing all day.

  8. Tia C says:

    I’m betting her book was written long before Chris pummeled Rihanna. Maybe she just wanted to share her story, sometimes people like to do that. And if it’s a successful book, and you make a little money on the side, what’s wrong with that? William Hurt, although a great actor, has always had a reputation for having “issues,” that is nothing new.

  9. dar says:

    There were rumors of this way back when it was happening, so I’m not surprised at all.

    Good for her for speaking up. I’m sure it would have been impossible for her to do it at the time – the attitudes toward abused women were even more negative than they are now, she was so young, she was addicted herself, so you can imagine the kind of scorn that would have been heaped on her for speaking out. There was also, as I recall, a bit of crap along the lines of “no one would pay her any attention if she weren’t deaf.” So she was in a difficult situation.

    Great to see her looking so good!

  10. Susan says:

    I am really bothered when these revelations coincide with the promotion of a book. If these incidents occured on a daily basis, why did she not tell someone? I am certain her husband – a police officer – would have encouraged her to go to the police as soon as he heard about it, even if it was years later. I am sorry, but this is entirely self-serving on her part; it seems to have no provable veracity, and is, as a result, reprehensible behavior, Yes, if true, it should be reported to the police. Just don’t do it via a book which you are trying to sell.

  11. CandyKay says:

    I would imagine that the book is the story of her life, and that this was just one small part of it. Celebitchy, Access Hollywood, etc. aren’t picking up on her first film role or first date: they’re choosing the much more juicy details of her relationship with Hurt.

    Should she have edited that relationship out of her life story just because it’s 20 years later?

    I recall another argument on this board about Sean Lennon revealing his father had deafened him in one ear by screaming directly into his eardrum. There were the same sorts of comments, that Sean should have kept this information to himself because it was all so long ago, and because John Lennon was really, really talented and the posters just loved him and it was sad to say something nasty about a guy who was just so great and loved peace, anyway.

    I didn’t buy that either. Abuse is abuse, and it’s fair enough to say so whenever the opportunity presents itself.

    On the other hand, I don’t think one incident of abuse, or even many, negate an entire life’s accomplishments, as I said in another posting about Chris Brown. Hate the sin, not the sinner.

  12. Maritza says:

    If she was a drug addict and he was an alcoholic than they both had issues and had equal blame for the abuse. But it obviously seems that money is the only reason why she wrote this story after 20 years have passed.

    • MJ says:

      By this logic, all addicts are deserving of, or at least to blame for, their own abuse? That is a horribly uncompassionate thing to say. People with addictions and other mental health issues (which often go hand in hand) are usually the most marginalized and vulnerable to abuse, next to children, the elderly and the disabled. Nobody is to blame but the abuser – victim-blaming just makes the abused less likely to seek help.

  13. vsmith says:

    The timing of it stinks. It is absolutely about promoting the book.

  14. Granger says:

    Maritza: “If she was a drug addict and he was an alcoholic than they both had issues and had equal blame for the abuse.” Wow. That’s just horrible. I don’t care what substance she was addicted to, no woman ever deserves to be abused by a man. Do you also believe that a woman who was wearing a short skirt when she was raped deserved to be raped?

  15. BeautifulNahla says:

    Approximately 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims

  16. j. ferber says:

    Good on you, Granger. Spot on.

  17. Mrs.Darcy says:

    People slamming her for reporting on it 20 years later, stop and think maybe it is more than just self promotion. Maybe she has seen he is off the wagon again after years of sobriety and is afraid for those around him -maybe it might even be a wake up call for him. She is open about the fact that she was a drug addict so she’s hardly trying to paint herself as innocent, although there is no doubt she was a victim and he a grown man who should’ve known better. Maritza, her drug use is irrelevant to his abuse of her, it must have hindered her judgement but is in no way an excuse for him abusing her. It saddens me people try to excuse abuse like this constantly. Nevermind the fact she is deaf and was probably very isolated by that in a way that hearing people aren’t, he truly was beyond low and as much as I have admired his work in the past and more recently in Damages it is hard to hold much repect for him now. If she wanted to blacken his name she could’ve done it years ago when his career was still at its peak, this is obviously just a part of her autobiography and she has every right to tell her story.

  18. gg says:

    Team Granger. Also — This is not new news people and was NOT timed for publicity. Maitlin spoke out about it right after she split with Hurt, AGES AGO. This is just a part of her inspiring life story and any man who beats or abuses a woman NEEDS TO BE OUTED because they are scum.

  19. Levi says:

    Hurt was sued by a former lover for child support. She also made similar allegations in court.

  20. gg says:

    I read about this in People magazine when it happened, and to her credit, Marlee did not go into great detail, just that Hurt had physically abused her and she had to get out of the relationship because he had a history of beating women. Heard about it on the radio as well. At the time the story made me cry because the poor woman was a deaf teenager at the time, and the first famous deaf actor.

    Beating and verbally and sexually abusing women is only just above doing the same to a child. How in hell can you do that to a handicapped person and just carry on doing that to more people and not be jailed ??? We really need to get tougher on these assaults or people will just keep doing it.

    She has every right to tell her inspiring story.

  21. judy says:

    It was out over 20 years ago after he slapped her around in front of other people. She said 2 years ago she was writing this book and it not being put out because of Chris Brown roflmao. Hurt has stpped up to the plate before he started edrinking again and admitted it

  22. sauvage says:

    I recall Kathleen Turner writing in her autobiography that when they did “Body Heat” in the early Eighties William Hurt was “rather wild with alcohol and women” or something like that, but that by the time they did “The Accidental Tourist” in 1988 he had recovered. Seems like he is one to fall off the waggon every now and then.

    And I SO agree with everybody on this site who pointed out that there is no excuse for physical abuse. None.
    Plus it’s not the alcohol that makes people do things like that – it’s a moronic excuse for what causes the drinking problem in the first place. People with substance abuse issues have problems facing their fears and anger and they release/canalize/calm them down by said substance abuse. So no, it is no coincidence that alcoholics so often show agressive behaviour – the alcohol only brings out what has always been in there. Which is why one should solve the deeper problem nourrishing the addiction.

    I can understand the need to just destroy something to canalize all the agression that builds up in a fight – but goddamn me if I ever hurt someboy physically just because I am too much of a coward to face the borders about how to treat other people properly. It IS cowardice and lack of responsibility. Ya, couples scream at each other while fighting and I even trashed a flowerpot once – not aiming at my man, though, I just threw it on the floor! – but there is a line that is never ever to be crossed.
    I could be drunk off my ass and STILL not hurt anybody. Because I wouldn’t do that, period.

  23. Dan says:

    Wow folks! Why do we need to bring rape into this? Hey if she wants to sell a book about her life and people buy it.. Great. If Hurt physically abused her that would be a big part of the story. If I were a friend of hers I would ask her “Why didn’t you use your Hollywood actress/living in Manhattan/Cocaine money and get the hell out of there the first time he hit you”? Second question would be, “where does that bastard live now? LET’S GET HIM”

  24. ! says:

    I find it interesting that you’re all saying “oh, the timing, the timing”. When was she supposed to say it? I guarantee that at any point in her career if she just said it to say it, you’d all have been saying she just wanted the attention!

  25. ! says:

    Also why should she have to edit out something of her life story, just so all you people can feel better about being a William Hurt fan? Its her life we’re talking about here. 20 years ago or no, it still happened.

  26. cherryblossom says:

    I don’t doubt it happened….but it sounds like a publicity stunt for her book. I hate saying that, but it’s how the world works.

  27. Mairead says:

    Oh God, thank you to the naysayers – it’s all so clear now. If she wasn’t so flawed and taking drugs, she wouldn’t have provoked his thuggish @ss (and obviously wouldn’t have stumbled repeatedly into his fists – the clumsy girl)

    Well, there’s my delusions put right 🙄

    I vaguely remember articles on William Hurt in the 80s and 90s about how volatile he was – don’t remember anything about him beating anyone, but he just didn’t read on my radar back then.

  28. trollydolly says:

    She has every right to reveal it. He hit her and abused her. If someone stole from her would she be wrong to name and shame them years later? I suppose the pro-hitting-a-woman brigade that frequent this site probably would say she deserved that too.

  29. Orangejulius says:

    Can you imagine hitting a deaf woman that many years younger than you? That speaks volumes to me. In my worst drunken rages, I’ve never hurt a living being …phones and windows and things are all fair game, but NEVER anything alive. I don’t care if this is to promote her book, she’s the one who had to live through it.

  30. Miss C says:

    No she should not keep her mouth shut, even if it was 20 years ago. With this attitude towards women, it really isn’t amazing that things like domestic violence and rape go unreported.

    There is no shame for her, she was a victim. The only person who should come out of this looking bad is the man that abused her.

  31. CB Rawks says:

    “Hate the sin, not the sinner.”

    What the hell?!!
    UM no thanks. I will continue to hate the sinner as well. Because I am not mentally deficient,
    and they are evil and should be beaten to a pulp to see how they enjoy it.

  32. czarina says:

    I agree completely that this is HER life she is talking about. She does not owe it to Hurt (or his fans) to edit herself, gloss over what must have been a frightening and confusing time in her life, and minimize the damage he did or the pain he caused her.
    That said, I DO think the drugs played a part in why she had trouble leaving the relationship. It’s scary enough to deal with an alcohlic abuser when you, yourself, are not an addict.
    Is it for publicity? Well, she wrote a book. This was in it. She is promoting her book, and people are going to ask her about it.
    To imply that she put it in her book ONLY for publicity is unfair. Like I said, it’s HER life and she can reveal what she wants to.

  33. Dan says:

    a pro-hitting woman brigade frequent this site?

  34. vsmith says:

    I didn’t imply it. I said it. Wah, life is so unfair.

  35. You go Marlee!! says:

    “No provable veracity”.
    Statements like these are written by people trying to sound extra smart. If this was a first year English course, you would be told to keep your writing simple. There is nothing worse than breaking out the thesaurus to try to find big words–they often don’t fit together very well. Just say that she can’t prove these allegations are true.

    I am proud of her. Of course these allegations come out now when she is promoting her book. Why? Because she is writing an autobiography, dumbasses, and this was a bad situation in her life. Get it? So, if she finally feels ready to reveal her life’s story–“warts” and all–then of course she is going to include the abuse she suffered at the hands of her lover. Why shouldn’t she name names? Why would he deserve protection? If it is a lie, he can sue. If it is true, he can claim that he was an alcoholic at the time, that he is sorry for what happened twenty years ago, and that he has already sought treatment.

  36. czarina says:

    @vsmith–since I wasn’t only referring to you, I was trying to be polite.
    Wah,it’s so unfair that the world doen’t revolve around you….!

  37. Hieronymus Grex says:

    So what’s she done lately other than the book- NOTHING.

    • Jaye says:

      Read the article…it states what she’s doing now. I also believe she has something to do with the ABC Family show “Switched at Birth”, but I don’t know in what capacity. So to say that she’s got nothing going on shows that you are uninformed.

    • Embee says:

      Apparently she has been raising four children. That’s substantially more than “nothing.”

  38. Anoneemouse says:

    How awful! I remember when they dated. Who could ever forget him in “The Big Chill?” What a great movie – he was an awesome actor and I’m really disappointed to hear that he abused her.

  39. j. ferber says:

    Dan, you’re absolutely right about the pro-hitting woman brigade. And it’s even worse on other sites. Just awful.

  40. Texas Gal says:

    The whole point of somebody writing an autobiography is because they want to write their life story. I dont understand questions that ask why is she coming out with this now?… Because she felt like it. plain & simple!
    As far as book sales…isn’t that the whole point of even considering writing a book?

  41. abc says:

    the guy does live up to his name ehh

  42. Aspen says:

    I’ve always been shocked at the number of women who will pummel a woman who shares a tale of violence in her life…fabricating all kinds of horrible ulterior motives for her telling it.

    It’s all very sad and vicious. Sigh. She’s an idiot for staying in the abuse and, apparently, she’s also a bitch for telling people what happened to her.

    I’m proud of her for putting it in her book. I’m sure it was a HUGE factor in her development and maturity. It’s probably a very large part of the person she became. Good for her. If you don’t like that she’s “exploiting her past,” then don’t buy the book. It’s really that simple.

  43. leigh says:

    actually hieronymus rex, she was a major character in 2 recent seasons of the l word, just as it states in the article. (although, she’s not currently on it as it ended it’s run a few weeks ago.)

    anyways, i’m completely flabbergasted by some of the responses here. it’s an autobiography – of course she’s going to include the abuse. and of course the media is going to run with the most controversial story. and to insinuate in any way that she was partially to blame or that she owes Hurt anything at all is absolutely nauseating.

    a few weeks ago i was walking to the subway having just gotten off work and a man grabbed his crotch at me in the most lewd manner i’ve seen in ages. when i ignored him, he shouted back “as if no one’s ever done that to you before you f***ing b****”. and that’s precisely the problem. i’m by no means trying to compare this random @ss shouting at me on the street to marlee’s story, but harassment and abuse occur on a regular basis to most women in different forms and scales and it’s this attitude of “well, it happens” and our continued refusal to talk about and condemn it openly that allows it to continue. just because it happens doesn’t mean we should have to take it.

    i personally commend Marlee on talking about something that was obviously very painful, even if it is 20 years after the fact and being used to promote her book.

  44. Patrice says:

    Marlee is so beautiful : )

  45. Patrice says:

    By the way, does anyone know if William has come out and said anything to defend himself? Has he even acknoweledged this at all?

  46. tigerlille says:

    This ‘controversy’ is ridiculous. It was known that he physically abused her twenty years ago, and others as well. Why on earth would she edit an important event from her autobiography? Marlee is a brilliant actress, a beautiful woman, and a wonderful human being. William Hurt was once a brilliant actor (not familiar with any recent work), handsome (not so much now), and a loser as a human being.

    Does Marlee hope to earn money by publishing her autobiography? Probably. That is one of the motives of most people who publish an autobiography, or any other book, and it is not a crime.

    It is too bad that Marlee’s acting career was severely curtailed by her deafness. I wish her the best.

  47. Di says:

    Wow racial double standard. People want Chris Brown to hang, but we should just forgive Hurt because he’s a great actor, even though he’s a SERIAL abuser of MULTIPLE women. Yikes.

  48. Pufft says:

    Well done Marlee. I wish more women could speak out – despit the number of years that have passed.

  49. afc says:

    Ditto Maritza

  50. Syllver says:

    **********For the people who are judging Marlee for telling her story now that she is launching her book!!!!


    If he hurt her like that, she deserves to capitalize off of it, if she so desires to!!!
    It really P*sses me off when people speak ill about the dam victims. I think that it is her decision to deal with her abuse in whatever way she feels is best for her and her family.
    Everybody handles things differently, I, personally would have put his a** in jail, with a quickness!, but that’s me!
    ****If she makes money off of his embarassment, SO BE IT!!! If he is a abuser, he deserves to be outted, to warn other potential victims!!!

  51. puzzled says:

    I get the sense that because she’s deaf shes innocent. Is’nt that a form of racism?

    Ok so who’se to blame here? Its beeen documented that abused women continue to set themselves up with ppl who are abusive. Also she gained fame and fortune and slept with him at a young age. The world would have said Marlee who??

    She’s looking for an authority figure in her life.. oh wow she married a cop?

    So owe up woman.

  52. Maw says:

    Abuse is abuse, whether it happened 20 years ago or yesterday. It takes some people longer than others to overcome their own personal issues that come along with being abused. I do not find that this is about publicity or anything other than she finally came to terms with what happened and as part of her healing processs, revealed the secret. No one had a problem when Oprah revealed that she had been molested by her father over 30 yrs before her revelation….
    Get off Marlee’s back.

  53. angie says:

    i just watched children of a lesser god for the second time in 20 years and thought it was just about the most romantic movie i have ever seen, if it’s really true that he physically abused her in real life i think that is just so horribly sad…it makes me really angry that he was so loving toward her in the movie and so cruel in real life 🙁

  54. Bev LaLonde says:

    I first heard of Hurt’s abuse nearly 20 years ago from a drama faculty member in Ann Arbor, who had contacts in the deaf community. I believed it then and his recent apology admits as much. Let’s not blame the victim for not coming forward sooner….I’m sure Marlee loved him then for his brilliance and intensity and fame, at that time. Her reputation rests on that film and she likely didn’t want to sully it before now.

  55. judy says:

    I read about this 20 years ago. This is not the first time she nhas come forward and talked about this. AND she is notn the first wm=oman he abused or the last, He is a drunk and is abusive with or with out the booze and he shoud have been charged with rape when he did that to her but she was young and dumb and BTW he never denied it 20 years ago,

    • Kelly says:

      I too remember this and remember looking up his picture because there are two Hurt actors and I wanted to be sure which one it was. So for those who say she is just coming out with this to sell a book-you would be wrong. This is an old story.

  56. Romia says:

    Why does no one EVER question the accuser???

    Matlin is a verifiable opportunist and isn’t half as sweet as the biddy brigade would like to think. If you’re aware of her historical statements concerning Hurt, you should KNOW this. Or is it only interesting to read about Matlin when there’s a man involved that you can skewer?

    This banding together of women, immediately and without question, is no different from mob justice…blind, irrational, and immune to critical thought.

    Mariah Yeater was full of sh*t and Halle Berry was ALWAYS full of sh*t, but not a question was asked, no doubts displayed, and goddamnit there are still people that b*tch and scream that Yeater is STILL to be taken seriously or that Bieber has a direct phone line to the conspiracy department at the CIA?

    WTF? This is the backbone of the “respect and empower women” movement? Well, you can keept that sh*t cuz I don’t want a single part of it. That ISN’T what my gender fought for so many years ago.

  57. Kim says:

    I don’t care if it was 30 minutes ago or 30 years ago…because of book sales or because she survived. Most of you are ridiculous. Act like it doesn’t matter and you are a catalyst for the problem. Plain and simple…oh, but what if he didn’t mean it….what if she didn’t understand….what if you’re an idiot!! She deserves cudos for surviving whatever he dished out…and unless you’ve lived it, the rest of you should shut up! I’m sure that they’ll be the few, the proud, the asshole abusers who’ll defend the lowlives, but you’re no better than the masses. BTW…for those who feel compelled to defend the lowlife, in their life, that likes to beat on women…….save your breath and move on.