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Top 10 John Hurt Performances

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Niki Neptune.

He's probably been your favorite character more times than you know. In this video, http://www.WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 John Hurt performances. With over 50 years in the industry and two Oscar nominations, John Hurt's got some serious acting chops to go with along with his extensive resume. He may generally fly under the radar as far as movie stars go, but that doesn't mean we don't appreciate him. For this list, we're taking a look at the most iconic performances on the big screen and the small screen from this distinguished English gentleman.

Special thanks to our users jkellis and Ashley Birks for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Transcript
Script written by Niki Neptune.

Top 10 John Hurt


He’s probably been your favorite character more times than you know. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 John Hurt performances.

With over 50 years in the industry and two Oscar nominations, John Hurt’s got some serious acting chops to go with along with his extensive resume. He may generally fly under the radar as far as movie stars go, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate him. For this list, we’re taking a look at the most iconic performances on the big screen and the small screen from this distinguished English gentleman.

#10: Prof. Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm
“Hellboy” (2004)

In this visual stunner from Guillermo Del Toro, John Hurt plays the knowledgeable Professor Broom. After discovering Hellboy while working with the Allied forces to stop a Nazi power-grab, Broom becomes a mentor and a father figure for the demon. And while Hurt’s character doesn’t see much action on the field, he could easily be considered the brains of the operation, and is willing to do whatever it takes for his protégé.

#9: ‘Control’
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011)

In this spy thriller, Hurt plays the head of the British Intelligence who’s out to catch a double-agent amongst their ranks. Set in the ‘70s when it was decidedly more difficult for the government to monitor your cell phone usage, Hurt’s character, only known as “Control,” is certain there is a Soviet operative among his group of agents. However, his efforts to uncover the truth are derailed before he and his colleague can get to the bottom of it. And despite having limited screen time, it is Control's intuition that is the driving force of the film.

#8: Mr. Garrick Ollivander
“Harry Potter” franchise (2001-11)

Let’s go back to when a pre-teen Harry Potter still hadn’t figured out there was an evil wizard trying to kill him and he was just trying to adjust to the whole “magic” thing. Thankfully, the boy wizard had many people to help him on his journey towards self-actualization, including Mr. Garrick Ollivander. Hurt’s Ollivander provides Harry with his very first wand and gives him a quick intro to using the magical sticks. However, it’s his extensive knowledge of all things wands that makes him a target for Voldemort during the Wizarding War. While his screen time may be brief, it’s still of vital importance to the franchise’s storyline.

#7: Caligula
“I, Claudius” (1976)

Though he’d been acting since the early ‘60s, Hurt got a huge boost to his career when he starred as an unstable Roman emperor in this 1976 BBC series. In this highly successful TV production, he played a backstabbing, violent, and delusional man whose tyrannical reign was eventually cut short by a brutal uprising. The series had a number of controversial scenes, including one where Hurt’s character cuts his unborn child out of his sister-wife’s body and eats it. If nothing else, it put Hurt on the map as one to watch.

#6: Jellon Lamb
“The Proposition” (2005)

In this Australian western, Hurt plays an elderly bounty hunter on the tail of a gang of criminals responsible for murdering a small family. While on a stakeout, Jellon Lamb is happened upon by his very target. Unaware of the man’s true identity, he goes into a drunken tirade about monkeys and Darwin, but also unwittingly reveals that he’s a bounty hunter – which leads to Lamb being incapacitated by his target. Although the role is relatively brief, Hurt’s performance as a plastered and surprisingly nimble bounty hunter is definitely unforgettable.

#5: High Chancellor Adam Sutler
“V for Vendetta” (2006)

While this film is noted for having popularized the use of a Guy Fawkes mask to symbolize opposition to tyranny, Hurt embodied the actual face of tyranny with his role as an oppressive British dictator. As Chancellor Sutler, he plays a man who orchestrated a viral outbreak as a means to implement an era of totalitarian rule that holds an entire nation hostage. His is a brutal dictatorship, and as such, he serves as one of the central antagonists in the film.

#4: Max
“Midnight Express” (1978)

One of the roles John Hurt has mastered is that of the disheveled Englishman with a substance abuse problem. In this prison drama, Hurt plays Max, an inmate in a Turkish prison who befriends an American named Billy, who’s jailed for attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country. Along with fellow inmate, Jimmy, the trio struggles to adjust to the brutalities and hardship of life inside a foreign jail. Hurt’s performance as the drug-addicted Brit earned him an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor and paved the way for him to become an acting heavyweight.

#3: Winston Smith
“Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1984)

A far cry from his 2006 role as an authoritarian dictator in a dystopian British future, in “1984,” Hurt plays a man living a double life as he struggles against the yoke of complete governmental totalitarianism. While his character works as a middle class editor rewriting history as ordered by Big Brother, he secretly maintains a journal and begins an illegal relationship with a woman who also opposes the ruling party. Hurt’s portrayal of the film’s protagonist garnered praise both from critics and audiences, helping solidify the film as a classic.

#2: Kane
“Alien” (1979)

Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror revolutionized the genre, thanks in large part to its exceptional production and iconic film sequences. In “Alien,” Hurt plays Kane, a crewmember aboard an Earth-bound spaceship that takes a detour to investigate a mysterious signal. During a search and rescue expedition, Kane is attacked by a face-hugging creature that implants something in his body. The attack leads to one of the most unforgettable scenes in movie history as a creature bursts forth from his chest during a meal. It was a gruesome scene that went down in pop culture history and a role he’ll undoubtedly always be associated with.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The War Doctor
“Doctor Who” (2013)
- S.R. Hadden
“Contact” (1997)
- Quentin Crisp
“The Naked Civil Servant” (1975)
- The Horned King
“The Black Cauldron” (1985)

#1: John Merrick
“The Elephant Man” (1980)

Based on the real life experiences of Joseph Merrick, Hurt plays a man whose life is shaped by his physical disfigurement. While working at a freak show, Merrick is befriended by a physician from London Hospital, eventually residing at the hospital entirely. He’s given a glimpse at a life he never had access to, going from a sideshow freak to high society curiosity and back on display. “The Elephant Man” was showered with accolades, with Hurt particularly shining, as proven by his Oscar nod for Best Actor.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite John Hurt performance? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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How did you forget to mention him in the amazing series The StoryTeller - One of his very best work which influenced so many children