Deming, NM- The world lost an icon on Friday, January 27 when acting legend Sir John Hurt passed away. He was widely known for his many versatile roles in The Elephant Man, Alien, Hellboy, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, Spaceballs and the Harry Potter franchise. He was also a featured player in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth installment of the beloved franchise. This particular film was partially shot in Deming, New Mexico, where a number of community members were able spend time with the cast and crew of the film. One man, local business owner Carlton Rich, spent a week with the late Mr. Hurt.
As filming in Deming was starting to wrap up, and the crew began to pack things up to head for Hawaii, Hurt arrived in Deming to join up with the film crew. While he didn’t film anything in Deming, he did spend a great deal of time in the small town. Rich met him when the actor checked into the hotel he’d been managing, the same hotel that housed the cast and crew of the film.
“I met him one morning while coming in early and having coffee out back. He joined me one morning. We’d been instructed not to bother the actors, but he sat down with me and began talking about the Florida Mountains,” Rich remembered. John Hurt struck Rich as a man who enjoyed discovering new places and trying out new things. He also joked that the old actor was rather fond of talking, not that Rich minded.
Early morning discussions over coffee and graham crackers soon became the norm for Rich and Sir John. On one of the last nights Hurt stayed at Rich’s hotel, the actor treated Rich and his girlfriend to dinner after asking for recommendations for a place with the best soup.
The biggest thing that Rich took away from his week with the old actor was to pursue his passions and art. Hurt told Rich that he always preferred making smaller, independent films as opposed to the larger, big-budget pictures that he was known for.
“He explained that he loved [working with independent writers and directors] because those people were usually doing what they were doing for themselves. They were raw and uncut in their expressions and their art and that passion begets passion.” Rich and Hurt continued to discuss passion and the love one can have for their craft, and it was soon apparent that Hurt loved being able to be part of another persons creative process when their vision came from a passionate place.
Their discussion eventually shifted toward Rich’s interests and talents. Rich is a gifted artist and had been interested specifically in tattooing for at least seven years at that point. Unfortunately, Rich felt that he had too much to lose if he’d really tried to pursue that dream. Hurt responded by saying “passion is never fueled by the necessary.”
“He said you’ll never to be truly passionate about something if you’re just doing it to make ends meet,” Rich said. “I guess that’s a clever way of saying that if you do something you love for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life. He was so matter-of-fact about everything that you almost had to shake your head at how simple it really is to make these decisions and follow your heart when it comes to doing what you love.” Rich explained that having someone he both greatly admired and respected tell him that it was okay to go out and chase your dreams “even if you burst into flames” was a firm push he needed toward the path he’s on now.
The following year, Rich began apprenticing at tattoo shops in Arizona on weekends, and then four days out of the week, with the job eventually taking priority to his position at the hotel. After parting ways with the hotel, Rich used his final paycheck, some savings and his bonus to finish his apprenticeships and eventually open his own shop, Two Bits Tattoo, in June of 2010. Two Bits is Deming, New Mexico’s only business for tattoos and piercings, and is also the first and only licensed and accredited tattoo shop in the city since legislature passed the bill for proper licensing in 2007. Rich has managed to keep the shop stable and running for almost seven years, and while business is at times slow due to the economy, he is always able to keep the doors open.
“I’ve always said ‘if I can make enough to pay the bills, then that’s all I care about.’ I tattoo to tattoo. I give her everything and she gives it right back.”
While Rich doesn’t completely credit John Hurt for helping him pursue his dreams as a tattoo artist, he does credit the actor with giving him at least a little nudge. “I would say that more than anything, John came along at a time that I really needed affirmation from another artist,” Rich said. “I’m really lucky that it was an artist that was so passionate about his craft and in doing things for the right reasons. He inspired me to choose what I wanted to do, not what I needed to do.”
Rich’s shop, Two Bits Tattoo, is located in Deming, NM at 112 E Pine St.