Bob Hoskins
Hoskins in May 2006
Robert William Hoskins

(1942-10-26)26 October 1942
Died29 April 2014(2014-04-29) (aged 71)
London, England
Burial placeHighgate Cemetery, London
Occupation(s)Actor, director
Years active1968–2012
Jane Livesey
(m. 1967; div. 1978)
Linda Banwell
(m. 1982)

Robert William Hoskins (26 October 1942 – 29 April 2014) was an English actor and film director.[1] Known for his intense but sensitive portrayals of "tough guy" characters,[2][3] he began his career on stage before making his screen breakthrough playing Arthur Parker on the 1978 BBC Television serial Pennies from Heaven. He subsequently played acclaimed lead roles in the films The Long Good Friday (1980), Mona Lisa (1986), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and Mermaids (1990).

Hoskins had supporting roles in Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982), The Honorary Consul (1983), The Cotton Club (1984), Brazil (1985), Hook (1991), Nixon (1995), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Maid in Manhattan (2002), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005), A Christmas Carol (2009), Made in Dagenham (2010), and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). He portrayed Mario in the 1993 film Super Mario Bros., based on the video game of the same name, and voiced Boris Goosinov in the animated film Balto (1995). Hoskins also directed two feature films: The Raggedy Rawney (1988) and Rainbow (1996).

He 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. Hoskins won a Canadian Genie Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Felicia's Journey. In 2009, he won an International Emmy Award for Best Actor for his appearance on the BBC One drama The Street. Hoskins retired from acting in 2012 owing to Parkinson's disease after being diagnosed the previous year. He died in April 2014 from pneumonia.

Early life

Robert William Hoskins was born in Bury St Edmunds on 26 October 1942, the son of Elsie (née Hopkins), a cook and nursery school teacher, and Robert Hoskins, a bookkeeper and lorry driver.[4] One of his grandmothers was Romani.[5] From two weeks old, he was brought up in the Finsbury Park area of London.[6] He attended Stroud Green Secondary School, where he was written off as "stupid" on account of his dyslexia.[7] 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.[8][9] He spent six months on a kibbutz in Israel and two years tending to the camels of a Bedouin tribe in Syria.[9]


Hoskins filming Ruby Blue in 2006

Hoskins's 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.[10] A year later, while waiting in the bar at Unity Theatre, London, for his friend the actor Roger Frost, Hoskins found himself being auditioned for a play after being handed a script and told, "You're next."[11] 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".[12]

In late 1969, he was part of Bolton's Octagon Theatre outreach troupe, which became the Ken Campbell Roadshow.[13]

Hoskins's London theatre career included portraying a "vigorous" Alfred Doolittle in a West End production of Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion opposite Diana Rigg at the Albery Theatre in 1974,[14] and in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh at the Aldwych Theatre in 1976 as Rocky the bartender, opposite Patrick Stewart.[15] In 1981, he starred with Helen Mirren in The Duchess of Malfi at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester[16] and the London Roundhouse.[17]

His first major television role was in On the Move (1975–1976), an educational drama series directed by Barbara Derkow aimed at tackling adult illiteracy.[18] 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.[19] His breakthrough in television came later in the original BBC version of Dennis Potter's 6-part drama Pennies from Heaven (1978), in which he portrayed adulterous sheet music salesman Arthur Parker. He later played Iago (opposite Anthony Hopkins) in Jonathan Miller's BBC Television Shakespeare production of Othello (1981).[20] 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).[21] 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 film parts included Spoor in Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985), 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 (1982) and, in 1997, had a cameo as Ginger Spice's disguise in the Spice Girls' film, Spice World.[22] 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 as Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film.[23]

Hoskins and Freddie Francis on location in Montreal for Rainbow in 1994

A high point in his career was portraying the 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.[24] Film critics, among them Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, agreed that Hoskins was perfect for the role.[25] 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 experienced hallucinations for months after production on the film had ended.[26] He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won a British Evening Standard Award for his performance.

In 1994, Hoskins was considered for the role of baseball manager George Knox in Angels in the Outfield, but was deemed too short for the role and Danny Glover was cast.

Hoskins's portrayal of the Los Angeles investigator Valiant was one of several roles where he used an American accent; he was described by Trey Barrineau of USA Today as having "a knack for playing Americans better than most American actors could".[27] 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 called De Palma to ask if there were any more films he was not needed for.[28]

In a 1988 interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, when asked about many of his roles being underworld types, Hoskins said, "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?"[29]

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".[30] He was injured several times on set, spent most of the time with co-star John Leguizamo getting drunk to escape boredom, and was not aware that the film was based on a video game until he was informed later by his son.[9]

In 2007, Hoskins appeared in the music video for Jamie T's single "Sheila".[31] 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 from Bob Hoskins.[32]

On 8 August 2012, Hoskins announced his retirement from acting, having been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.[33]

Personal life

When asked in an interview which living person he most despised, Hoskins named Tony Blair and said, "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.[34][35]

Hoskins often made light of his similarities with film actor Danny DeVito, who he joked would play him in a film about his life.[35]

With his first wife Jane Livesey, Hoskins had two children: Alex (b. 1968) and Sarah (b. 1971). With his second wife, Linda Banwell, he had two more children: Rosa (b. c. 1983) and Jack (b. c. 1986).[36] Hoskins divided his time between the Hampstead area of London[37] and Chiddingly, East Sussex.[38]

Later in life, Hoskins gave up drinking alcohol. He said that his wife persuaded him to go sober.[39]

Illness and death

The grave of Bob Hoskins, Highgate Cemetery

Hoskins was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011. He retired from acting in August 2012.[40] On 29 April 2014, Hoskins died of pneumonia at a London hospital, aged 71. He was survived by his wife Linda and his four children.[41]

Among actors who paid tribute at his funeral were Stephen Fry, Samuel L. Jackson, and Helen Mirren.[20][42] Hoskins is buried in Highgate Cemetery in London.[43]



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 Himself as 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 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 Final film role


Year Title Role Notes
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: Task Force 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 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 Television film
1985 The Dunera Boys Morrie Mendellsohn 2 episodes
1994 The Changeling De Flores Television film
1994 World War II: When Lions Roared Winston Churchill 2 episodes
1995–1999 The Forgotten Toys Teddy Voice
26 episodes
1996 Tales from the Crypt Redmond Episode: "Fatal Caper"
Also director[45]
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 - TNT
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
2006 The Wind in the Willows Badger Television film
2008 The Englishman's Boy Damon Ira Chance 2 episodes
2008 Pinocchio Geppetto 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
2011 Neverland Smee 2 episodes


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