Born in Toronto in 1920, Hutt served with the Canadian ambulance corps on the European front during World War II, and was decorated for bravery in combat. After his service was completed, he entered Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He launched his professional career in 1948 in summer stock, going on to become leading man and associate director of Ottawa's Canadian Repertory Theatre, 1951-52.
In 1953, he played the jailer Brakenbury in Richard III during the first season of the Stratford Festival in Ontario. Hutt performed at the festival for 39 seasons, appearing in more than 100 productions. He had leading roles in such plays as King Lear, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and The Importance of Being Earnest. In 2005, he played Prospero in The Tempest; he had been scheduled to appear in this year's Stratford production of A Delicate Balance, but he withdrew in the spring due to ill health.
His credits outside of Stratford include the premiere production of Noël Coward's Waiting in the Wings in London and the original Broadway production of Edward Albee's Tiny Alice. Recently, Hutt played a heroin-addicted actor in the TV series Slings and Arrows.
Among his many awards, Hutt won an Earle Grey ACTRA for his performance in The National Dream in 1975, the first Governor General's Lifetime Achievement Award in Performing Arts in 1992, a special Dora Award for contribution to Canadian theatre in 1995, a Genie for his performance as James Tyrone, Sr. in Long Day's Journey Into Night in 1996, and a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000.
Hutt held honorary doctorates from the universities of Guelph, Western Ontario and McMaster. In 1969, he was named a companion of the Order of Canada. In 1996 he received Britain's Sam Wannamaker Award for his outstanding contributions to the world of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre. And in 2000, the City of Stratford rechristened the Waterloo Bridge in his name to celebrate his 80th birthday.