Bob Hoskins: Five Essential Roles

The versatile actor who veered from tough guy to family favourite

We've just received the very sad news that British acting legend Bob Hoskins has passed away.

Here's our tribute to Mr Hoskins, with five of his very best roles - roles for which he'll be remembered, always. 

The Long Good Friday (1980)

One of the finest British films ever made, mainly because of Hoskins' incredible central performance.

Intense, complex, and haunting - Hoskins' portrayal of gangster Harold Shand encapsulates the best of Hoskins: brave, tough and HUGE.

He might not have been the tallest actor - he stood at 5ft 6in - but his sheer charisma meant he was a gigantic presence onscreen.

Anyone whose seen Friday will never forget its last few moments - it's almost unbelievable that the scene came in Hoskins' movie debut.

In those final minutes he demonstrates more courage than most actors manage in a career.

Hoskins On That Final Shot: "For that last shot John Mackenzie said I’m going to put the camera on your face Bob for five minutes and I want you to just think your way through the film. I said, “You’re fucking joking, ain’t you?” So I thought my way through the film and there you see it in the final edit.

'We drove all round London for that scene. What I learnt from that was that if you was thinking the thoughts of your character, whatever you are doing is right, it is conveyed in your eyes and body language. The camera can see your mind. It takes quite a bit of concentration. You feel exhausted afterwards. But it’s worth it.’"

Mona Lisa (1986)

A role which won him Best Actor at Cannes, as well as an Oscar nomination, Hoskins' George is a mob flunky fresh out of prison, who's rewarded with a job as a driver for a hugh-end prostitute for his troubles.

But when he starts to develop feelings for her, George's situation - as well as Hoskins' impressive range - deepens.

Another gangster role following Friday could have easily have typecast Hoskins, but Bob brought a tenderness and depth to George that ended up opening many different doors for him.

Hoskins On How He Chose Scripts: "‘Cold bum test. I take it [the script] to the khazi in the morning and if I end up with a cold arse I think: This has got to be a good script. If you notice you’ve got pins and needles you think: Fuck me, this must be a good one.’"

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

There's probably isn't anyone else who could have played Eddie Valiant in Robert Zemeckis' groundbreaking mix of live-action performance and cartoon craziness.

Requiring a rare mix of tough-guy cool, physical comic prowess and a lack of personal inhibitions so brave as to be almost heroic, Hoskins is the only person who could've pulled the part off.

And pull it off he did; so many things could've gone wrong with Rabbit - that it's arguably his most-loved movie says much about the man. 

It wasn't an easy performance for Hoskins - his doctor insisted he took a five-month rest after filming finished - but it was worth the pain.

Hoskins On The Difficulty Of Making Roger Rabbit: "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. You had to know where the rabbit would be at every angle. Then there was Jessica Rabbit and all these weasels.

"The trouble was, I had learnt how to hallucinate. My daughter had an invisible friend called Jeffrey and I played with her and this invisible friend until one day I actually saw the friend."

Hook (1991)

Steven Spielberg's fantasy adventure might not have wowed critics, but it has a huge cult following amongst a generation who grew up watching the VHS over and over.

And one of their favorite characters from it? Hoskins' Smee, sidekick to Dustin Hoffman's titular Captain.

Demonstrating his under-appreciated gift for comedy (Hoskins was hilarious, onscreen when given the opportunity, and in interviews, always), Bob made the character loveable.

Hoffman On Hoskins: "Bob Hoskins and I were rehearsing and suddenly we looked at each other and realised it at the same time. We said, 'These guys are gay....' and it was fun.

"Suddenly we rehearsed it that way: 'Get over here, Smee. Give me a foot massage.' Suddenly it made all the sense in the world. They were really good friends. They lived on a ship. They were devoted to each other."

Twenty Four Seven (1997)
 

Shane Meadows wrote Hoskins' character Alan Darcy for the actor, saying that his presence in the film was as artistically important to the director as it was that it should be filmed in black and white. 

That Hoskins agreed to be in Meadows' debut reflects two things about the actor; he had an eye for talent, and that he contuined to support the Britsh film industry throughout his career (two of his final three films were British).

The film tells the story of Hoskins' boxing trainer Darcy, who inspires a group of working-class lads to believe in themselves, and each other.

It's a fiercely gritty, honest and powerful film - those are all words that can be used to describe Bob's performance in it. 

But he had more of a responsibility than just delivering a performance in the film, Meadows' cast was made up mostly of new, and untrained, young actors - and there isn't a weak turn amongst them.

At least partial credit has to go to Hoskins for the way he used experience and encouragement to bring out the best in them. Life reflecting art, there. 

Hoskins On Meeting The Cast: "I was terrified! There was no one over 25. I thought, 'Jesus Christ, they're going to eat me alive!' But they didn't. I went in there and I was amazed. They weren't impressed with me, and they didn't try to impress me. They didn't expect me to lead, and they didn't ask me to follow. I was just one of the chaps. I tell you, you get to my fucking age, and when you realise you still have street cred and can still run with a gang, that's great!"

Favourite Bob Hoskins performance? Tell us below!

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