He was one of the best actors of the 80's, name a actor who had a C.V as great as this roll of films
Altered States (1980)
Body Heat (1981)
The Big Chill (1983)
Gorky Park (1983)
Kiss of The Spider Woman (1985)
Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Broadcast News (1987)
The Accidental Tourist (1988)
The only stinker he had in that 80's run was A Time of Destiny. He was supposed to have a bit of a drug habit, and had a pretty stormy relationship with his Children of a Lesser God co-star Marlee Martin, which was rumored to be Violent at times. Also he admitted himself he had a bit of a ego during that time as well. So it's pretty amazing he made so many great films during that time.
It was when he hit the 90's when he started to have more misses then hits with his choices, mostly near the end of the 90's with crappy Horror's and thriller's which were underneath his talents. He also started to do more European and art house affair's in the early 90's that probably would never had reached a bigger audience. He had some gems during that period that I rate highly, Wim Wender's Until The End of The World (see it in it's Director's cut), The Doctor, Second Best, Smoke (his best performance from the 90's), Dark City, One True Thing, Sunshine.
During the 00's was when it got tough, so many duds with the odd moments that showed why he was so highly rated. Films like A.I, The King, A History of Violence (his best performance of 00's for me), Syriana, Into The Wild. Even in those films he wasn't the lead or had a massive role to be honest. A lot of his main roles came in the crappy horrors or low budget not so good World cinema work.
in the last 9 years, he's probably more know for staring in some Marvel films to be honest.
So it's fair to say from 80's until probably the mid 90's, you could say he was one of the best actors around. Then he went missing with pay check roles, but he showed glimpses of his old shelf in the 00's.
There is a funny scene in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever when one of the characters is complaining about Italian-American women. He says that all they want are White Anglo Saxon P***ks! He lists men such as Harrison Ford, Robert Redford and William Hurt. In the early 90s, Hurt was still huge.
Nothing lasts forever, but at the risk of quoting Mark Wahlberg, "once a star, always a threat".
I agree that his day in the sun was the 80's and he did some very good work there...
But unlike many he accepted being a supporting player or a character actor after his brightest star faded and just goes where the work is.
That's what character actors have to do.