Robert William Hoskins
26 October 1942
Bury St Edmunds, England
|Died||29 April 2014 (aged 71)|
|Burial place||Highgate Cemetery|
(m. 1967; div. 1978)
Robert William Hoskins (26 October 1942 – 29 April 2014) was an English actor. 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 71.
Hoskins was born in Bury St. Edmunds, West Suffolk, on 26 October 1942 to Robert Hoskins, a bookkeeper and a lorry driver, and Elsie (née Hopkins) Hoskins, a cook and nursery school teacher. His grandmother was Romani. From two weeks old he was brought up in Finsbury Park, London. He attended Stroud Green Secondary School where he was written off as stupid on account of his dyslexia. 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 three-year accountancy course. He spent half a year in Israel on a kibbutz, and two years in Syria tending the camels of a Bedouin tribe.
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. 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." 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." Hoskins's London theater career included portraying a "vigorous" Alfred Doolittle in a West End production of Bernard Shaw's, Pygmalion, opposite Diana Rigg at the Albery Theater in 1974, a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh at the Aldwych Theater in 1976, as Rocky the bartender, opposite Patrick Stewart. In 1981, he starred with Helen Mirren in The Duchess of Malfi at the London Roundabout, and the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
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. 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. 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 (opposite Anthony Hopkins) in Jonathan Miller's BBC Television Shakespeare production of Othello (1981). 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). 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. 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.
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. Film critics, among them Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, agreed that Hoskins was perfect for the role. 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. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won a British Evening Standard Award for his performance.
Hoskins's portrayal of L.A. investigator Valiant was one of several roles where he used an American accent; he was described by Trey Barrineau of USA Today as "ha[ving] a knack for playing Americans better than most American actors could." Others included Rocky the bartender in the play The Iceman Cometh (1976); gangster Owney Madden in Francis Coppola's The Cotton Club (1984); Gus Klein in Wolfgang Petersen's Shattered (1991); J. Edgar Hoover in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995); and Eddie Mannix in Hollywoodland (2006). He 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.
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?"
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.
In 2007, Hoskins appeared in the music video for Jamie T's single "Sheila". 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.
In 1967, aged 25, Hoskins spent a short time volunteering in kibbutz Zikim in Israel, and also herded camels in Syria. 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. He made light of his similarities with film actor Danny DeVito, who, he joked, would play him in a film about his life.
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). Hoskins divided his time between Hampstead, London, and Chiddingly, East Sussex.
Illness and death
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". Hoskins is buried in Highgate Cemetery.
|1972||Villains||Charles Grindley||3 episodes|
|1972||Play for Today||Taxi driver||Episode: "The Bankrupt"|
|1973||Crown Court||Freddie Dean||3 episodes|
|1973||New Scotland Yard||Eddie Wharton||Episode: "Weight of Evidence"|
|1973||Softly, Softly: Taskforce||Parker||Episode: "Outrage"|
|1973||Play for Today||Woodbine||Episode: "Her Majesty's Pleasure"|
|1974||Shoulder to Shoulder||Jack Dunn||Episode: "Outrage"|
|1974||Thick as Thieves||Dobbs||8 episodes|
|1974||Play for Today||Blake||Episode: "Schmoedipus"|
|1975||On the Move||Alf||2 years, 100 episodes|
|1976||Thriller||Sammy Draper||Episode: "Kill Two Birds"/"Cry Terror"|
|1976||The Crezz||Detective Sergeant Marble||Episode: "A Flash of Inspiration"|
|1977||Van der Valk||Johnny Palmer||Episode: "Dead on Arrival"|
|1977||Rock Follies of '77||Johnny Britten||Episode: "The Real Life"|
|1978||Pennies from Heaven||Arthur Parker||6 episodes|
Nominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
|1979||Of Mycenae and Men||Mr. Taramasalatopoulos||Television short|
|1980||Flickers||Arnie Cole||6 episodes|
|1981||Othello||Iago||Television film - BBC|
|1983||The Beggar's Opera||Beggar||Television film - BBC|
|1985||Mussolini and I||Benito Mussolini||4 episodes|
|1985||The Dunera Boys||Morrie Mendellsohn||2 episodes|
|1994||The Changeling||De Flores||Television film|
|1994||World War II: When Lions Roared||Winston Churchill||Television film - NBC|
|1995–1999||The Forgotten Toys||Teddy||Voice|
|1996||Tales from the Crypt||Redmond||Episode: "Fatal Caper"|
|1999||David Copperfield||Wilkins Micawber||2 episodes|
|2000||Noriega: God's Favorite||Manuel Noriega||Television film|
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
|2000||Don Quixote||Sancho Panza||Television film - Hallmark|
|2001||The Lost World||Professor George Challenger||Television film - BBC|
|2003||Frasier||Coach Fuller||Episode: "Trophy Girlfriend"|
|2003||The Good Pope: Pope John XXIII||Angelo Roncalli/Pope John XXIII||Television film|
|2008||The Englishman's Boy||Damon Ira Chance||2 episodes|
|2008||The Last Word Monologues||Unnamed hitman||Episode: "A Bit of Private Business"|
|2009||The Street||Paddy Gargan||2 episodes|
International Emmy Award for Best Actor
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