Photo gallery: John Hurt reflects on his role as chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts

Chancellor, John Hurt, at the 170th anniversary celebrations of the Norwich University of the Arts.

Chancellor, John Hurt, at the 170th anniversary celebrations of the Norwich University of the Arts. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

John Hurt may be a household name across the world for roles in films including Alien, Midnight Express and The Elephant Man, but the north Norfolk resident is also a keen supporter of causes close to his home.

Last year he was installed as the first chancellor of the Norwich University of Arts, and has used his fame to be a vocal cheerleader for the growing institution.

Reflecting on his initial invitation to become provost of what was then the Norwich University College of the Arts, he said: 'I was flattered, really. I think I had never been asked to do anything like that before in my life and the whole idea intrigued me because I knew quite a bit about what I would have called Norwich Arts School at the time.'

He added: 'I think that if one is in the position to be able to bring some publicity to the university – which you have to have a real feeling for, otherwise there is no point in doing it – you want to further it, and you want to advertise it and give it every possible chance, particularly at the moment when we are nurturing its early days and it's doing so well.'

He said filming commitments meant he had not met as many students as he hoped last year, but he wanted to visit as much as he could when he was in Norfolk and 'meet as many students as possible'.

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Asked about his ambition for the university, he said: 'I hope that when somebody goes for an interview to get into Norwich University of the Arts and they don't get into it they say: 'Well, in that case I'll go to the Royal College'.

'I want it to be number one and I think there's absolutely every chance it could be – so that it would be their absolute number one college to go to.'

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He said the NUA would have 'benefited me hugely' in his early days.

'I went to St Martin's and St Martin's did not suit me at all. It was too big then.

'I missed almost an entire term at St Martin's and I don't think it was noticed.

'That wouldn't happen here. I think everyone is followed, everybody is understood, everybody is helped and encouraged.'

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