Bob Hoskins, the celebrated English actor who brought gravitas and a wicked smile to any genre he worked in, from crime thrillers like The Long Good Friday to fantasy comedies such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook, died from pneumonia Tuesday. He was 71.
The actor claimed to have never taken any acting lessons – according to him, he was waiting at a theatre bar for a friend to finish an audition when someone gave him a script and said, “You’re next.” He scored the part at that audition and soon after, the short-statured Hoskins became a giant on the stage and screen, beloved by audiences around the world.
Hoskins appeared in various UK television series and mini-series during the 1970s, when he also found a calling on the British stage. However, the actor broke through on the big screen in the 1980s. His first major role was in the 1980 British crime thriller The Long Good Friday, which led to supporting turns in The Cotton Club, Pink Floyd The Wall and Brazil. Hoskins also won much acclaim in 1981 for playing Iago opposite Anthony Hopkins in a BBC adaptation of Othello. In 1987, Hoskins won a BAFTA and Golden Globe, and received his sole Oscar nomination for his role in another crime thriller, Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa, co-starring Michael Caine (who always cited Hoskins as a dear friend) and Cathy Tyson.
The actor could play tough guys – he was nicknamed the English Cagney – but Hoskins also had a tender and playful side. His final film was Snow White and the Huntsman, but he leaves behind a career of playing beloved characters in fantasy cinema, such as Smee in Steven Spielberg’s Hook and live-action detective Eddie Valiant in the influential cartoon classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Hoskins retired from acting in 2012, after revealing he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Other highlights in his filmography include roles in Nixon, Enemy at the Gates, Sweet Liberty, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Felicia’s Journey, Unleashed, Beyond the Sea and Last Orders. Hoskins also directed two films, 1988 war drama The Raggedy Rawney (which he also co-wrote) and the 1995 family comedy Rainbow.
Bob Hoskins’ wife, Linda Banwell, and children Alex, Sarah, Rosa and Jack said in a statement this morning: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob. … We ask that you respect our privacy during this time and thank you for your messages of love and support.”
R.I.P. Bob Hoskins, you will be missed.