Bob Hoskins Retires After Parkinson's Diagnosis: His Five Greatest Roles
With the sad news being reported today that English acting legend Bob Hoskins is retiring from the business following his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, we here at Contactmusic.com thought it only right to pay homage to the Suffolk-born man, with a run-down of five of his finest roles. Hoskins first made his name in a number of hard-hitting gritty crime and gangster thrillers, but as his career went on he found himself scoring points with comedy fans in a series of lighter roles. There's no doubt he had the odd clunker, but even we can forgive 1993's 'Super Mario'. Put simply, the man is a hero and the below performances were among the finest of any actor's canon.
1. Mona Lisa (1986)
A performance that saw Hoskins nominated for a slew of awards, including an Academy gong, a Golden Globe and a Bafta, this was typical 80s Bob fare. Playing a man recently released from prison, his old mob boss gives him a job driving around a high-class prostitute, the two striking up an unlikely friendship despite conflicting interest from outside parties on both sides. A film released when British cinema could make a gangster film without resorting to spoof or pastiche, this was one of the strongest films in the gangster genre to be released from the UK in the 80s.
2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
When Disney bought the rights to 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' back in 1981, their golden days of animation seemed behind them, vintage characters like Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse far from the household names of old. Throwing them all together though, this pioneering film that saw real life human interaction with animation, became a huge success and kick started an interest in animation again, with the early 90s subsequently providing a string of successful releases for the studios from 'Aladdin' to 'The Lion King'. And at the centre of it all? Bob Hoskins, holding the whole plot of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' together in his role as the detective trying to get to the bottom of it all.
3. Mrs Henderson Presents (2005)
'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' heralded a move by Hoskins to more family friendly and comedic roles, and by the middle of the last decade his status as lovable national treasure was assured. What better, then, than to team him up with another in the form of Dame Judi Dench? Nothing, that's what. 'Mrs Henderson Presents' sees the two actors characters in charge of a theatre during World War II in London, their glamour girls continuing with the show even during the height of the blitz. It's a touching tale of community power overcoming even the darkest of times.
4. The Street (2009)
A lot of the above roles saw Hoskins nominated for awards, without him ever taking one home. However it was this TV role that finally saw him break that, the actor taking an International Emmy gong for Best Actor for his role in this drama that, in a staple tradition of some of the great British scripts, followed the everyday lives of a tight-knit community in a humdrum town. Hoskins had proved time and time again that his unassuming nature was perfect for such a role and he was in his element again, appearing in the third series as pub landlord Paddy Gargan.
5. The Long Good Friday (1980)
You didn't think we were going to forget this one did you? It's debatable whether this is Hoskins best role, but it's certainly our favourite, and the one that truly put him on the map. The actor, it's now well known, plays a London mobster hoping to make his business "legitimate" thanks to money from the American mafia, when a series of murders across the city rocks his world to the core. Touching on a number of themes prevalent of the era, including the free trade market, the UK's involvement in the EEC (now EU) and the threat of the IRA, it's a gritty document of the time, and a real plot twister as Hoskins brilliantly vaunted character eventually finds that he's battling against forces far more serious than his petty crook community. And, lest we forget, 'The Long Good Friday' finishes with one of the finest closing scenes in 20th century British cinema, as a caught Hoskins stares death in the face; driven away in a car with a gun facing at him (held by the then unknown Pierce Brosnan) his face changes brilliantly from shock, to resignation and submission that he's been beaten by the better side. A classic.