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Actor Bob Hoskins dead at 71
08:54 am


Bob Hoskins

The actor Bob Hoskins, best known for his roles in The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Mermaids and Twenty Four Seven has died from pneumonia at the age of 71.

Hoskins died in hospital surrounded by his family. In a statement, his wife Linda and children Alex, Sarah, Rosa and Jack said:

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob.

“We ask that you respect our privacy during this time and thank you for your messages of love and support.”

There was a humanity and warmth about Hoskins that made him incredibly likable—something that can be seen by the current outpouring of condolences on Twitter. I was fortunate to meet Hoskins briefly once, at the premier of his first major movie The Long Good Friday. Having grown-up watching him on TV in the sit-com Thick As Thieves, the educational series On the Move (which was a reading program for adult literacy, but was a must watch because of Hoskins’ removal man), and Dennis Potter’s Pennies for Heaven, where he was unforgettable as a music sheet salesman, Arthur Parker, playing opposite Cheryl Campbell.

Then came The Long Good Friday where he played one of cinema’s greatest gangsters, Harold Shand, an ambitious and brutal villain who falls foul of the IRA. It was the Irish issue that led some fools to boo the film at its premiere in Edinburgh. As I was leaving the cinema, I found myself beside Hoskins and director John MacKenzie as we walked down the stairs and out onto the foyer. He turned and started talking to me as if we were mates who had gone to the cinema to watch the film. He asked me whether I thought the film was pro-IRA? I said “no” and then we talked a bit about the movie and Edinburgh. I was more keen to tell him how great the film and superb his performance, and he was humble and gracious, but deflected the praise by asking where he could find a good pub?

Back then there were fewer TV channels and hardly any inane reality shows clogging up all the air-time. This meant the bar was far higher and the quality of shows undeniably better. That’s how the country was able to see Hoskins as Iago in Jonathan Miller’s BBC production of Othello. It confirmed that Hoskins as an actor could do anything and successfully, which is what he went on to do over the next three decades.

Bob Hoskins was born on 26th October 1942. His father was a Communist, who brought Hoskins up as an atheist. He later said it was his mother who gave him “confidence”:

“My mum used to say to me, ‘If somebody doesn’t like you, fuck ‘em, they’ve got bad taste.’”

Hoskins left school at fifteen and undertook a variety of jobs (including time at a kibbutz, and working in a circus) before accidentally auditioning and winning his first acting role. Hoskins had been accompanying an actor friend for moral support, when he was asked to audition himself. From this first role, he went on to star in a range of television and stage productions, before achieving success with the series Pennies from Heaven and then The Long Good Friday.

During the 1980s he appeared in The Cotton Club, Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, and the film that made him an international star Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988.

More recently Hoskins showed his support for young talented film-makers by appearing in Shane Meadows’ Twenty Four Seven and A Room For Romeo Brass. Of course, he also made a few stinkers, but then that’s the nature of cinema. But no matter what film he appeared in, Bob Hoskins’ performance was often the best thing about it.

In 2012, Hoskins announced his retirement form acting after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

R.I.P. Bob Hoskins 1942-2014

Here’s the first part on the making of The Long Good Friday, written by Barrie Keefe, which starred Bob Hoskins.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Dennis Potter and Bob Hoskins: Behind-the-scenes of ‘Pennies from Heaven’

On a farm in Newbury, a camera crew set-up to film a scene from Dennis Potter’s latest drama series Pennies from Heaven.

Potter was a controversial dramatist, who was praised and loathed in equal measure. His previous single drama Brimstone and Treacle had been banned outright by the BBC for depicting the rape of a disabled woman by a strange, young man, who may or may not have been the Devil. Potter said of Brimstone and Treacle:

“...I had written Brimstone and Treacle in difficult personal circumstances. Years of acute psoriatic arthropathy—unpleasantly affecting skin and joints—had not only taken their toll in physical damage but had also, and perhaps inevitably, mediated my view of the world and the people in it. I recall writing (and the words now make me shudder) that the only meaningful sacrament left to human beings was for them to gather in the streets in order to be sick together, splashing vomit on the paving stones as the final and most eloquent plea to an apparently deaf, dumb and blind God.

“...I was engaged in an extremely severe struggle not so much against the dull grind of a painful and debilitating illness but with unresolved, almost unacknowledged, ‘spiritual’ questions.”

Set in the 1930s, Pennies from Heaven told the story of a sheet-music salesman Arthur, played by Bob Hoskins, whose life and fantasies were reflected through the prism of popular songs of the day. Potter said of the Arthur:

“Lacking any sense of God or faith, he literally believes in those cheap songs to the depths of his tawdry, adulterous, little lying soul.”

When Hoskins first read the script he thought it “lunacy”. A second-reading convinced him it was something very special. He was right, Potter had written a brilliant and original series, which proved to be an enormous success when first broadcast on the BBC. It went on to win a BAFTA for “Most Original Programme”, and earned Hoskins and his co-star Cheryl Campbell best actor and actress nominations.

The series was remade (badly) by Hollywood (no surprise there) with Steve Martin in the lead, in 1982. Hoskins went on to international success with the gangster classic The Long Good Friday, while Potter returned to his mix of drama, fantasy and song with his acclaimed series The Singing Detective in 1986.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Cast and Crew: The making of ‘The Long Good Friday’

With thanks to Nellym.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment