Richard Harris did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying English Bob in Unforgiven.
Harris has some fun with the role, and is pretty entertaining in portraying Bob as a man who is purposefully tying to pick a fight with others with his pompous demeanor. Harris in his opening scene creates the ego brilliantly of the man as you can see his great joy he takes in proving himself superior to others. Harris does more than that though by suggesting exactly what Bob is which is a killer underneath all his fine clothing. My favorite moment of his in this scene is when one of the men is taking offense to Bob and another warns him of Bob's history as a gunfighter. Harris is steely gaze is perfect as he suggests in just that moment the deadly abilities of Bob, and that yes indeed Bob would not really mind cutting down a few lesser sorts if they wanted to start something even if it is over whether or not America should have a monarch.
English Bob's destination is the town of Old Whiskey where the local prostitutes are offering a bounty against some men who cut one of them. As Bob still continues on in his pompous way into town even having too much delight in pretending to shoot a few bystanders Harris. He continues on in this way though until he finds himself surrounded by deputies and the sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman). Harris and Hackman are great in this scene as they play just the right casual antagonism that instantly reinforces the fact that Bob and Little Bill go way back, although not as old chums to be sure. Harris is great in the scene though by keeping Bob calm and cool and still rather genial as a good gentleman should be as he gives up his first gun. This end in one of my favorite moments of he film though and that is when Daggett asks for one more gun hidden in Bob's coat.
Harris's reaction to that moment is absolutely flawless and I love because not only is it a terrific ah hell sort of face but also Harris shows all that English gentlemen act just completely drain out of him in a moment. He gets drained more thoroughly out of him when Little Bill beats the living tar out of him and locks him in jail for the night. Inside the prison Hackman of course owns the scene as he just about owns the film with his unquestionably the greatest supporting performance of 1992, yeah don't worry, but that should not diminish what Harris still does in the scene. Of course Harris is limited by that he must be writhing in pain, which Harris does well, but his silent reactions to the true revelation of the west are all very well handled as only with his face Harris suggests Bob being somewhat ashamed about what he has done in the past that really does live up to his present image he likes to present.
One of the best moments of the film, again this is a great film so I can say that a lot, is when Little Bill has Bob's biographer (Saul Rubinek) try pulling the trigger of gun which he balks at, but then decides try for Bob's hand in it. It is one of Hackman's most incredible moment as he goes from an amiable warmth to completely chilling in a moment, but Harris does not slouch either. Harris also brings out the killer side in Bob at the same moment as he approaches the gun, and is very effective though in showing that Bob does know to accept defeat. Bob then is sent on his not so merry way with Harris leaving Bob as taken down many notches from his entrance. This is relatively short performance but he so nicely adds to the film in just the right way. The film is not about English Bob, but Harris realizes him as another part of the complex West that Unforgiven portrays.