The Melancholia actor told Metro that film-goers are more than capable of keeping up with less simple movies.
Hurt said that he was "enormously happy" about the success of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and added: "My instincts were correct - you should never underestimate the audience.
"It's a film which invites you to take part, you don't just put your feet up and say 'entertain me'. Film producers often underestimate the intelligence and participation of the audience."
Hurt added: "It's ever present. We go through periods with film. The 1960s and 1970s were extraordinarily experimental, both in film and TV.
"We've become less daring and films have become much more expensive - far too expensive at the top end. When you're dealing with blockbusters, it's such a massive audience that the material gets more facile."
His co-star Colin Firth has also claimed that there is "a tendency to underestimate audiences" and "an appetite to be stretched" among film-goers.
> John Hurt at the 'Melancholia' UK premiere - pictures
Watch the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy trailer below: