Bob Hoskins (1942-2014)

Published: Apr 30, 2014 12:05pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Entertainment

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:05pm EDT

 

Aged at 71 years old, news broke today that the English actor, Bob Hoskins had died from Pneumonia. The actor, who was always compared to American Danny Devito, due to size and build, had retired from acting in 2012 due to his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s Disease. 
Born in Bury St Edmunds, only twenty minutes from my own hometown, Hoskins grew up in Finsbury Park, London and left school aged 15 with few qualifications. He worked many jobs and enrolled in an accountancy program but nothing stuck. 

He broke into acting initially accidently while waiting for a friend at a theater bar. He was given a script, auditioned and got the role. Most Americans would remember him from the late 1980's as the detective in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ or the early 1990's and Smee in the Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams and Julia Roberts version of the Peter Pan story called ‘Hook’. Two years later he played Mario in the movie adaptation of the 1980's classic video game Super Mario Bros.

To say that he was a novelty and comedic actor would do the great man a disservice though and I would like to now let you know, or remind you, of some really good stuff he was involved in. A classic, gritty actor he was the Ray Winstone before Ray Winstone and only just missed out on playing Al Capone to Robert DeNiro.

In 1980 he played the lead character of Harold Shand in ‘The Long Good Friday’ for which he received a BAFTA award. Playing an old fashioned gangster and co stars Helen Mirren and a young Pierce Brosnan, this movie is one of the top all time British movies and certainly the range of facial emotions expressed by Hoskins makes his awards fully deserved. It reflects the fears of the time in England, and London in particular, with regard the IRA and on going threats of bombings and attacks against the mainland.

Many good movies featured Hoskins after that but the one I remember the most is the 1986 film called ‘Mona Lisa’. The awards given to him for this movie include the Best Actor award at BAFTA, Cannes and a nomination for an Academy Award. Playing George, an ex convict, Hoskins gets involved with a high end call girl. Staring Michael Caine as his boss, Hoskins is given a job of driving a the prostitute, Cathy Tyson to her appointments.

A friendship forms between the two and the movie builds the tension to a violent resolution.
He played J. Edgar Hoover in the film ‘Nixon’ and was in the John Travolta movie ‘Michael’ but my personal favorites came in the late 1990's.

1997 saw the release of ‘Twenty Four Seven’ and then ‘A Room For Romeo Brass’ was released two years later. In ‘Twenty Four Seven’, filmed in a gritty looking black and white, Hoskins played Alan Darcy, a man trying to something about the gang culture, and getting kids off the street. He opens a boxing gym and within this environment a whole range of social issues are dealt with.
‘A Room For Romeo Brass’, directed by Shane Meadows (director of 24/7) follows two 12 year old boys as they go through a difficult time in their childhood. It is not a movie in which Hoskins plays a major role, but is still well worth a look. The film ‘Enemy At The Gates’ is another example of some fine acting work from the man who will be missed by the British cinema in particular and American audiences, although they may not know it. 

So please, check out as many of these movies as you can, it would be a shame if he was remembered on this side of the pond as just a novelty film actor. 


 

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Jason Bardwell
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