John Hurt's 10 Most Underrated Performances

4. Richard Rich - A Man For All Seasons (1966)

Oojfojofj This was bound to show up somewhere on the list given my introduction. But the role of Richard Rich is so pivotal in the story of A Man For All Seasons that without an actor of weight and ability, the story cannot move forward, at least not at such a pace. Richard Rich was Hurt's first genuinely big role, and he carries it off very well. A Man For All Seasons is adapted from Robert Bolt's award-winning play of the same name. It tells the story of Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield), Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw), who resigned from his office and was eventually executed for refusing to acknowledge the King's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his subsequent status as Supreme Head of the Church of England. It won six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Scofield. Rich begins the story as More's friend, who is then seduced by offers of power by the King's secretary Thomas Cromwell (Leo McKern). It's a role that embodies one of the play's big themes: the triumph of status and materialism over spirituality and morals. Hurt is required to transition from a pathetic, insecure weakling to a stately gentleman, albeit one firmly under Cromwell's thumb - and it's very convincing. He counterpoints his anger in the early scenes with a sense of gracefulness later on, and he has enough presence to hold his own against both Scofield and McKern.

Freelance copywriter, film buff, community radio presenter. Former host of The Movie Hour podcast ( and click 'Interviews'), currently presenting on Phonic FM in Exeter ( Other loves include theatre, music and test cricket.