Cultural Life: John Hurt, actor

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The Independent Culture

Films: I've been watching a lot of short films lately – because I'm a judge on the panel of Virgin Media Shorts, alongside the likes of directors Paul Greengrass and Mat Whitecross. The last feature film I saw was 'Captain America'. It was an unlikely film for me to see really, which I rather enjoyed. It was good fun!

Books: I had to do the narration for 'Rifleman: A Front Line Life', about Victor Gregg who was a rifleman and had the most extraordinary war, so I read that, completely fascinated. The book I am reading at the moment is this year's Man Booker winner, 'The Sense of an Ending' by Julian Barnes. It's a fabulous piece of writing.

Music: I love live music and we have some wonderful musicians performing in Billy Bob Thornton's 'Jayne Mansfield's Car', filmed in Georgia USA. I love the uilleann pipes and listen to Ronan Browne who's an uilleann piper.

Television: I seem to watch less and less television. The best thing in 'Downton Abbey' is Penelope Wilton. She is always worth the watch.

Opera: The English National Opera does have some terrific productions, which are accessible and they're not too ridiculously expensive. I'm not really a big musical fan. I enjoyed 'West Side Story' when it came out, but it gets a bit tired in the end.

Visual Arts: The last art exhibition I went to was the Summer Exhibition. I've also got a portrait and two portraits of my sons that were done by Stuart Pearson Wright. I think he is a wonderful figurative painter.

John Hurt CBE is on the judging panel for Virgin Media Shorts . You can vote for your favourite film in the People's Choice Award by 28 October. For more details, visit