John Hurt's 10 Most Underrated Performances

9. Aragorn - The Lord of the Rings (1978)

Aragon Lotr Animated

Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy is an astonishing achievement, and played a big part in getting me seriously interested in film. But whilst it is widely considered the best attempt to put J. R. R. Tolkien's epic on screen, it was by no means the first. Back in the late-1970s, animator Ralph Bakshi had a reasonable go at the events of the first two books - and John Hurt was on board as the voice of Aragorn.

There are a great many things wrong with Bakshi's version. Aside from only covering the first half of the story, its visuals haven't dated very well and it is not as tonally strong; frankly it is difficult to see how anyone could prefer it over the Jackson version. But the voice artists are one of its saving graces, particularly Hurt's performance as Aragorn. While Viggo Mortensen's take is perhaps the definitive portrayal of the character, Hurt still brings out his strength and resilience, with his rich, deep voice being a source of both threat and comfort. This is the first of two voice-only choices on this list, which isn't entirely surprising; while Hurt has lent his voice to narration many times (e.g. Lars von Trier's Dogville and Manderlay), he hasn't done a great deal of animation voice work. Nonetheless, he brings a lot of weight to the part of Aragorn, helping to balance out the often goofy eccentricities of Gandalf and the hobbits.

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.