Oscar Actors: Hoskins, Bob–Background, Career, Awards

December 15, 2020
Bob Hoskins Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: Lower-Middle; father bookkeeper and lorry driver, mother cook and nursery school teacher

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Screen Image: character actor

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Robert William Hoskins (26 October 1942 – 29 April 2014) was an English actor.[1] His work included lead roles in Pennies from Heaven (1978), The Long Good Friday (1980), Mona Lisa (1986), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Mermaids (1990), and Super Mario Bros. (1993), and supporting performances in Brazil (1985), Hook (1991), Nixon (1995), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005), A Christmas Carol (2009), Made in Dagenham (2010), and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). He also directed two feature films: The Raggedy Rawney (1988) and Rainbow (1996).

Hoskins received the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his role in Mona Lisa. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the same role. In 2009, Hoskins won an International Emmy Award for Best Actor for his appearance on the BBC One drama The Street. Hoskins retired from acting in 2012 due to Parkinson’s disease, with which he had been diagnosed the previous year, and died from pneumonia on 29 April 2014, at age.

Hoskins was born in Bury St Edmunds, West Suffolk, on 26 October 1942 to Robert Hoskins, a bookkeeper and lorry driver, and Elsie (née Hopkins) Hoskins, a cook and nursery school teacher.[2][3] His grandmother was Romani.[4] From two weeks old he was brought up in Finsbury Park, London.[5] He attended Stroud Green Secondary School where he was written off as stupid on account of his dyslexia.[6] He left school at 15 with a single O-Level and worked as a porter, lorry driver, plumber and window cleaner. He started but did not complete a 3-year accountancy course.[7][8] He spent half a year in Israel on a kibbutz, and two years in Syria tending the camels of a Bedouin tribe.[8]

Career

Hoskins filming Ruby Blue in 2006
Hoskins’ acting career began in 1968 at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, in a production of Romeo and Juliet in which he played a servant named Peter.[9] A year later, while waiting in the bar at Unity Theatre, London, for his friend the actor Robert Frost, Hoskins found himself being auditioned for a play after being handed a script and told “you’re next.”[10] His audition was successful and Frost became his understudy. Frost considered Hoskins “a natural”, recalling that “he just got up on stage and was brilliant.”[11]

His first major television role was in On the Move (1975–1976), an educational drama series directed by Barbara Derkow intended to tackle adult illiteracy.[12] He portrayed the character Alf Hunt, a removal man who had problems reading and writing. According to producer George Auckland, up to 17 million people watched the series.[13] His breakthrough in television came later in the original BBC version of Dennis Potter’s innovative 6-part fantasy-drama Pennies from Heaven (1978), in which he portrayed adulterous sheet music salesman Arthur Parker. He went on to play Iago in Jonathan Miller’s BBC Television Shakespeare production of Othello (1981).[14] In 1983 Hoskins voiced an advert for Weetabix and during the late 1980s and early 1990s, he appeared in advertising for British Gas and British Telecom (now BT Group).[15][16] Other television work included Flickers, portraying Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield (1999), and The Wind in the Willows (2006).

British films such as The Long Good Friday (1980) and Mona Lisa (1986) won him the wider approval of critics, the latter film winning him a Cannes Award, Best Actor Golden Globe, BAFTA Awards, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Other works in film included delivering comic turns in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985); portraying Smee in Hook (1991) and in Neverland (2011); starring opposite Cher in Mermaids (1990); portraying Nikita Khrushchev as a political commissar in Enemy at the Gates (2001); and playing Uncle Bart, the violent psychopathic “owner” of Jet Li in Unleashed (2005; aka Danny The Dog). He had a small role as the protagonist’s rock and roll manager in The Wall (1979), and in 1997 had a cameo as Ginger Spice’s disguise in the Spice Girls film Spice World.[17] He directed two films that he also starred in: The Raggedy Rawney (1988) and Rainbow (1996), and produced Mrs Henderson Presents alongside Norma Heyman, for which he was nominated Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film.[18]

Hoskins and Freddie Francis on location in Montreal for Rainbow in 1994
A high point in his career was portraying private investigator Edward “Eddie” Valiant in the live-action/animated family blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Hoskins was not the first choice for the role; Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, and Eddie Murphy were all considered for the part.[19][20] Film critics, among them Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, agreed that Hoskins was perfect for the role.[21] As his character interacts and makes physical contact with animated characters in the film, Hoskins was required to take mime training courses in preparation. He suffered hallucinations for months after production on the film had ended.[22][23] He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won a British Evening Standard Award for his performance.

Hoskins was slated to be the last-minute replacement in case Robert De Niro refused the role of Al Capone in The Untouchables (1987). When De Niro accepted the part, the director Brian De Palma mailed Hoskins a cheque for £20,000 with a “Thank You” note. Hoskins was moved to call the director and ask if there were any more films he wasn’t needed for.[24]

In a 1988 interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, when asked about many of his roles being underworld types, Hoskins stated, “I think if you’ve got a face like mine you don’t usually wind up with the parts that Errol Flynn played, you know?”[25]

He told The Guardian in 2007 that he regretted starring as Mario in Super Mario Bros. (1993), saying that he was extremely unhappy with the film, greatly angered by his experiences making it, and referring to it as the “worst thing I ever did”. He was injured several times on set, spent most of the time with co-star John Leguizamo getting drunk to escape boredom, and had no idea the film was based upon a video game until told so by his son.[8]

In 2007, Hoskins appeared in the music video for Jamie T’s single “Sheila”.[26] In 2009 he returned to television for Jimmy McGovern’s drama serial The Street, playing a publican who opposes a local gangster. For this role he received his only Emmy: Best Actor at the 2010 International Emmys. The 2011 film In Search of La Che features a character, “Wermit”, whose every line of dialogue is a quote of Bob Hoskins.[27]

On 8 August 2012, Hoskins announced his retirement from acting having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.[28]

Personal life
In 1967, aged 25, Hoskins spent a short time volunteering in kibbutz Zikim in Israel, and also herded camels in Syria.[29][30][31] When asked in an interview which living person he most despised, Hoskins named Tony Blair and said that “he’s done even more damage than Thatcher”. He hated Blair to the point that he decided in 2010, for the first time in his life, not to vote for Labour, by then led by Gordon Brown.[32][33] He made light of his similarities with film actor Danny DeVito, who, he joked, would play him in a film about his life.[34]

With his first wife Jane Livesey, Hoskins had two children – Alex (born 1968) and Sarah (born 1972). With his second wife Linda Banwell, he had two more children – Rosa (born c. 1983) and Jack (born c. 1986).[35] Hoskins divided his time between Hampstead, London[36] and Chiddingly, East Sussex.[37]

Illness and death
In August 2012, Hoskins retired from acting after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.[38]

On 29 April 2014, he died of pneumonia at a hospital in London, England at age 71.[1][39][40] He is survived by his second wife Linda Banwell and his four children.[41][42]

Among the actors who paid tribute at his funeral were Stephen Fry, Samuel L. Jackson, and Helen Mirren, who said that “London will miss one of her best and most loving sons”.[14][43] Hoskins is buried in Highgate Cemetery.

Filmography
Film
Year Title Role Notes
1972 Up the Front Recruiting sergeant
1973 The National Health Foster
1975 Royal Flash Police Constable
1975 Inserts Big Mac
1979 Zulu Dawn CSM Williams
1980 The Long Good Friday Harold Shand Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1982 Pink Floyd The Wall Band manager
1983 The Honorary Consul Colonel Perez Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1984 Lassiter Inspector John Becker
1984 The Cotton Club Owney Madden
1985 The Woman Who Married Clark Gable George
1985 The Dunera Boys Morrie Mendellsohn
1985 Brazil Spoor
1986 Sweet Liberty Stanley Gould
1986 Mona Lisa George BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Cannes Film Festival: Best Actor (tied with Michel Blanc in Ménage)
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year (tied with William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Valladolid International Film Festival: Best Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
1987 A Prayer for the Dying Father Michael Da Costa
1987 The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne James Madden Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit Eddie Valiant Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actor
1988 The Raggedy Rawney Darky Also director
1990 Heart Condition Jack Moony
1990 Mermaids Lou Landsky
1991 The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish Louis Aubinard
1991 Shattered Gus Klein
1991 Hook Smee
1991 The Inner Circle Lavrentiy Beria
1992 Passed Away Johnny Scanlan
1992 Blue Ice Sam Garcia
1993 Super Mario Bros. Mario Mario
1993 The Big Freeze Sidney
1995 Nixon J. Edgar Hoover Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1995 Balto Boris Goosinoff Voice
1996 Rainbow Frank Bailey Also director
1996 The Secret Agent Verloc
1996 Michael Vartan Malt
1997 Twenty Four Seven Alan Darcy European Film Award for Best Actor
1997 Spice World Ginger Spice’s disguise Cameo
1998 Cousin Bette Cesar Crevel
1999 Parting Shots Gerd Layton
1999 Captain Jack Jack Armistead
1999 Felicia’s Journey Hilditch Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
1999 A Room for Romeo Brass Steven Laws
1999 The White River Kid Brother Edgar
2000 American Virgin Joey
2001 Enemy at the Gates Nikita Khrushchev
2001 Last Orders Ray “Raysie” Johnson National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
Nominated – European Film Award for Best Actor (shared with ensemble cast)
2002 Where Eskimos Live Sharkey
2002 Maid in Manhattan Lionel Bloch
2003 The Sleeping Dictionary Henry DVD Exclusive Award for Best Supporting Actor in a DVD Premiere Movie
2003 Den of Lions Darius Paskevic
2004 Vanity Fair Sir Pitt Crawley
2004 Beyond the Sea Charlie Maffia
2005 Unleashed Bart
2005 Son of the Mask Odin Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor[44]
2005 Mrs Henderson Presents Vivian Van Damm National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
2005 Stay Dr. Leon Patterson
2006 Paris, je t’aime Bob Leander Segment: “Pigalle”
2006 The Wind in the Willows Badger
2006 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Winston Voice
2006 Hollywoodland Eddie Mannix
2007 Sparkle Vince
2007 Outlaw Walter Lewis
2007 Ruby Blue Jack Oxford International Film Festival – Best Actor
2007 Go Go Tales The Baron
2008 Doomsday Bill Nelson
2009 A Christmas Carol Mr. Fezziwig / Old Joe Motion capture; voice
2010 Made in Dagenham Albert Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
2011 Will Davey
2012 Outside Bet Percy “Smudge” Smith
2012 Snow White and the Huntsman Muir