Bob Hoskins: His Notable Roles
Bob Hoskins — one of Britain’s most distinctive and recognisable actors — has retired recently due to an ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease. Known for his hard-man portrayals in a few top-quality British gangster films, Hoskins does have a bit more variety on his film list. People in the United Kingdom also became familiar with Hoskins because of his TV ad work for BT in the early 1990s and their famous catchphrase, “It’s good to talk.”
Hoskins’ modesty and warmth frequently shines through the gangster act seen on the big screen. He famously received a cheque for £20,000 and a thank-you note from director Brian de Palma after Robert De Niro was chosen for a role in 1987’s “The Untouchables” over him. His modest nature dictates that he was most likely first choice and that that cheque was a lot larger.
The Long Good Friday (1980)
In his breakthrough role, Hoskins plays Harold Shand, a leader of the London underworld who has big development plans for the docklands area he owns. Over the course of one weekend, Shand’s efforts to legitimise his businesses are shattered by a serious of bombs from an unknown enemy — one in his Rolls Royce, one in his pub and another in his casino. The attack threatens to ruin his big real estate deal with the American mob. Despite looking dated, this is one of Britain’s most exceptional gangster films, carried by Hoskins’ affectionate and brutal performance as a gang leader. In the end, you’ll end up rooting for him.
Mona Lisa (1986)
George (Hoskins) is tough on the outside and full of sentiment on the inside in this seedy thriller from director Neil Jordan. After serving a term in prison for his gangster boss, Denny (Michael Caine of 1999’s “The Cider House Rules”), George takes a job as chauffeur to high-class prostitute Simone (Cathy Tyson). The pair follows the well-worn route of an unlikely relationship that, over the course of the film, turns into something more. Ferrying her from client to client, George becomes increasingly protective ofSimone and, touched by her devotion, delves further into the criminal underworld to help her find her best friend. “Mona Lisa” is a fun film that rightly earned Hoskins a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award for Best Actor. His excellent performance and pairing with Tyson makes this film a great watch.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
The first film in history to successfully combine live action with animation is also a mix of slapstick comedy, noir and buddy movie that only director Robert Zemeckis could pull off. Hoskins is lovable Detective Eddie Valiant, the man caught in the middle of a bigger plot to get rid of Toontown. He manages to inject a lot of heart into a role which, without Hoskins, would feel rather shallow. He’s also great on screen with Roger Rabbit (voiced by veteran voice talent Charles Fleischer) and manages to stand out amid a plethora of famous ‘toon characters. His reluctant-hero detective wouldn’t be out of place in any big-name noir.
For everyone, film fan or not, there is a mental list of films that, as a kid, they watched time and again (probably at Christmas) that, in adulthood, bring back sentimental feelings. If you were young enough at the time, Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” is one of those films. Dustin Hoffman (of 1996’s “Sleepers”) takes the lead baddie role as Captain Hook with Hoskins as his right-hand man (and confidant), boatswain Smee — or “SMEEE!!” as frequently Hook calls upon his sidekick with frustration. The show is stolen by Robin Williams’ (“Night at the Museum,” 2006) performance as a middle-aged Peter Pan revisiting his childhood in Neverland and training for a duel with Hook and take back his kidnapped children. Hoskins, though, is perfect as a sidekick, adding charm and touch of comedy to his pirate character.