Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Late Great Bob Hoskins

British actor Bob Hoskins died yesterday at the age of 71 The cause was pneumonia. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

Bob Hoskins was born in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk on 26 October 1942. His mother had been evacuated to Bury St. Edmunds due to the German bombing of London during World War II. He grew up in in Finsbury Park, London. Mr. Hoskins left school at age 15 and worked as a porter, a lorry driver, and a window cleaner. He took a course in accounting, but dropped out before finishing it. It was in 1968 that he accompanied his friend, actor Roger Frost, to an audition. While waiting Mr. Hoskins was mistaken for an auditionee and asked to try out for one of the parts. He tried out and was awarded the lead role.

It was in 1972 that Bob Hoskins made his television debut in an episode of The Main Chance. In 1973 he appeared in a three part episode of Crown Court. During the Seventies he was a regular on the television programmes Thick as Thieves, Pennies from Heaven, and Flickers. He also appeared on such shows as Villains, Kate, New Scotland Yard, Sir Yellow, Softly, Softly: Task Force, Shoulder to Shoulder, and Thriller. He made his film debut in 1972 in Up the Front. He appeared in the films The National Health (1973), Inserts (1974), Royal Flash (1975), and Zulu Dawn (1979). In 1980 he appeared in one of his most famous roles, that of gangster Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday. For the role Mr. Hoskins received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

It was in 1988 that Mr. Hoskins appeared in what could possibly be his best known role, that of detective Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He received an Oscar nomination for his role as ex-convict George in the 1986 neo-noir film Mona Lisa. He also appeared in such films as Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), The Honorary Consul (1983), Lassiter (1984), The Cotton Club (1984), Brazil (1985), The Woman Who Married Clark Gable (1985), Sweet Liberty (1986), A Prayer for the Dying (1987), The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987), Heart Condition (1990), and Mermaids (1990).  On television he appeared in a 1981 adaptation of Othello and a 1983 adaptation of The Beggar's Opera. Mr. Hoskins also appeared as Benito Mussolini in the TV movie Mussolini and I. He appeared on the show Weekend Playhouse.

In the Nineties Bob Hoskins appeared in such films as Shattered (1991), Hook (1991), The Inner Circle (1991), Passed Away (1992), The Big Freeze (1993), Rainbow (1995), Nixon (1995) , Michael (1996). 24 7: Twenty Four Seven (1997), Cousin Bette (1998), Let the Good Times Roll (1999), Felicia's Journey (1999), Captain Jack (1999),and The White River Kid (1999). He appeared in the 1994 TV movie World War II: When Lions Roared as Winston Churchill, as well as television adaptations of David Copperfield and Don Quixote. He appeared on the TV shows Tales from the Crypt and Saturday Night Live.

From the Naughts to the Teens Mr. Hoskins appeared in such films as Enemy at the Gates (2001). Last Orders (2001), Maid in Manhattan (2002), The Sleeping Dictionary (2003), Den of Lions (2003), Vanity Fair (2004), Beyond the Sea (2004), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005), Hollywoodland (2006), Outlaw (2007), Ruby Blue (2007), A Christmas Carol (2009), Outside Bet (2012), and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). He appeared in television adaptations of The Lost World, The Wind in the Willows, The Englishman's Boy, and Pinocchio. He also appeared on the TV show The Street, and the mini-series Neverland.

Mr. Hoskins also directed two films, The Raggedy Rawney (1988) and Rainbow (1995), as well as the episode "Fatal Caper" of Tales from the Crypt

When the average movie viewer thinks of Bob Hoskins, he or she is likely to think of Eddie Valiant from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It was certainly a role of which Mr. Hoskins could be proud. He was incredible in the part. Mr. Hoskins was so convincing as the Los Angeles private eye that one might find hard to believe that he was an Englishman raised in London and not an American. That Mr. Hoskins could transform himself into an American private detective from the Forties (and one in a world where "Toons" are real at that) should not be surprising, as his talent as an actor was such that he could transform himself into nearly any character he wished.

Indeed, it is not many actors who can boast that they had played Benito Mussolini (in Mussolini and I),  J. Edgar Hoover (in Nixon), Winston Churchill (in World War II: When Lions Roared), and Nikita Khrushchev (in Enemy at the Gates) and played every one of them convincingly. The number of different sorts of characters that Bob Hoskins played throughout his career was simply amazing. He not only played gangsters such as Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday, but also theatre impresario Vivian Van Damm in Mrs. Henderson Presents, Captain Hook's boatswain Smee in both Hook and Neverland, shop owner Lou Landsky in Mermaids, and Catholic priest Father Michael Da Costa in A Prayer for the Dying. While many actors are confined to only playing certain types of roles, this was not the case with Bob Hoskins. He had the talent to play nearly any role he was given and be entirely convincing in that role. Indeed, even when a film in which he appeared might not be very good, his performance always was.

1 comment:

Jim Marquis said...

Very sad. I enjoyed his acting a great deal.