“I was three parts pissed. We were going to a party. And this bloke comes around and says: ‘Right. You’re next. Have you seen the script?’ And I got the leading part.”
That was Bob Hoskins and his very honest description of how he landed his first role while accompanying a friend to an acting audition in 1968.
Sadly, it was reported by the actor’s publicist on Tuesday that Hoskins, 71, passed away due to pneumonia. He spent his final moments surrounded by his family. In 2012, he retired from acting when diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
It’s always sad when an artist passes away, especially someone who has worked in theatre, television and film for more than forty years. Hearing about Hoskins passing and his poor health prior to his death is pretty disheartening. He was an actor whose career spanned across multiple genres of film.
His breakout in cinema came in the form of the 1980 film The Long Good Friday. He played Herman Shand, a British gangster attempting to go legit as his many businesses come under the attack of a series of bombings. He would continue to star in multiple projects throughout the 1980s including The Cotton Club (1984) and Brazil (1985.) It was in 1986 that Hoskins would receive his only Academy-Award nomination for Best Actor for Mona Lisa. The neo-noir film followed George (Hoskins), a recently released convict who chauffeurs a high-class call-girl to various clients.
Despite being involved in many critically acclaimed films, Hoskins had always been quite candid about the low points in his career as well, especially the universally reviled Super Mario Brothers (1993), which he starred in as the title character.
“Super Mario Brothers. It was a fucking nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! Fucking nightmare. Fucking idiots.”
Even with his powerhouse performances in Mona Lisa and The Long Good Friday, many people can’t help but fondly remember him as the alcoholic private investigator Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1989). What is now considered to be a classic, Who Framed Roger Rabbit showed us that a mix of classic animation and live-action could look spectacular. It was Hoskins’ performance however that really made that picture what it is today. The toon-hating detective was the audience’s guide in a world that was dominated by the likes of Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck and the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit.
The dedication that he brought to picture is still astounding to this day. Having to pretend that you were talking to a three foot tall white rabbit wearing suspenders must have been a pretty unusual shoot. Hoskins has made many a comment on the filming of the picture over the years.
“I think I went a bit mad while working on that. Lost my mind. The voice of the rabbit was there just behind the camera all the time. The trouble was, I had learnt how to hallucinate.”
Since Roger Rabbit, Hoskins has starred in Hook (1991), Nixon (1995), David Copperfield (1999), Unleashed (2005), A Christmas Carol (2009), Neverland (2011) and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012).
Hoskins left a sizable impression in cinematic history and that makes it difficult to summarize the man in a single statement. Whether he was playing a cockney accented gangster, or an exasperated detective, Hoskins gave it his all. He loved his work and was brutally honest about himself and his career. I think I’ll let him have the last few words.
“I came into this business uneducated, dyslexic, 5ft 6in, cubic, with a face like a squashed cabbage and they welcomed me with open arms.”
Hoskins is survived by his wife, Linda Banwell, and his four children.
Did you know: In the distant 1990s, Chris Claremont, the writer of many classic X-Men storylines, including Days of Future Past and The Dark Phoenix Saga, wanted Bob Hoskins to play Wolverine. Claremont pitched the idea of an X-Men film starring Hoskins to James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. Cameron would have produced the film while Bigelow filled in the director’s chair. The project fell apart after Claremont and Cameron met with Stan Lee who wanted to make a Spider-Man movie. Cameron abandoned the Claremont’s X-Men idea in favor of a Spider-Man film. The proposed Cameron directed Spider-Man movie would later share the same fate as the X-Men project.
Thanks to The Wrap for unearthing that last bit of incredible trivia