John Hurt's 10 Most Underrated Performances

8. Jellon Lamb - The Proposition (2005)

John Hurt The Proposition Both this and the following entry are what might be referred to as "old man cameos": a revered actor turning up in old age for a very brief part, which in some cases shapes the rest of the film. John Hurt is only in The Proposition for about ten minutes, but it is a memorable ten minutes. The Proposition is the debut feature by John Hillcoat, who would later direct The Road (starring Viggo Mortensen - see how this all fits together?). Working from a script by the legendary singer-songwriter Nick Cave, it tells the story of criminal Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce), who is forced to hunt down and kill his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) so that he and his younger brother can go free. Set in the Australian outback in the 1880s, it's a very atmospheric story with big Old Testament overtones. Jellon Lamb is a bounty hunter who is also on Arthur's trail. In his main scene, he and Charlie confront each other in a house, share a drink, muse about Charles Darwin and then Charlie knocks out Lamb and leaves. In the wider context of the plot, it's something of a whimsical diversion, but Hurt's gravelly voice and ragged appearance also add to the arid, unforgiving atmosphere of the film. If nothing else it's a memorable cameo which lifts some of the film's more ordinary elements.

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