John Hurt: five best moments

Our pick of the actor’s greatest film performances to date. What others deserve to be on the list?

To mark John Hurt's appearance in Hercules ("cheerfully ridiculous" – The Guardian), here's our selection of some of the actor's finest screen roles to date – but what are we missing? Share your favourite Hurt performances in the comment thread below.

1. Alien

A big spoiler alert if you've never seen Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror, which features one of cinema's most memorable death scenes as the unfortunate Kane (Hurt) falls victim to a rather nasty parasite.

2. 1984

Hurt stars as Winston Smith in Michael Radford's adaptation of the Orwell novel. In his review for the Observer, Philip French said: "Hurt's strained face, soulful eyes and anxiously braced shoulders suggest a man of doubt and decency, discovering and trying to retain his personal probity."

3. The Elephant Man

Hurt's affecting performance as John Merrick garnered a nomination for Best Actor at the 1980 Oscars, although he lost out to Robert De Niro for Raging Bull. The following clip is one of the film's most famous scenes.

4. Dead Man

Hurt has a small but crucial role in Jim Jarmusch's western (which also featured as one of Johnny Depp's five best moments), playing the cranky factory manager who delivers some most unwelcome news to new-in-town accountant William Blake.

5. King Ralph

And finally, King Ralph – another film making its second appearance in 'five best moments'. This fish-out-of-water comedy about Las Vegas lounge singer who becomes King of England might not be to everybody's taste – but Hurt puts in a deliciously villainous turn as Lord Percival Graves, the scheming aristocrat for whom there is nothing is more ghastly than an American.


Adam Boult

The GuardianTramp

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