I'm hugely saddened to report that Oscar-nominated British actor Bob Hoskins — the quintessential Cockney gent of latter-day cinema — has passed away. Aged 71, he died in hospital following a bout of pneumonia.
His wife, Linda, and four children issued a statement clarifying that the Londoner “died peacefully at hospital last night surrounded by family,” and thanked well-wishers for their “messages of love and support.” Hoskins' health had been declining for some time: he retired from acting in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. His last screen role was in “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
After supporting roles in such films as “Zulu Dawn” and a BAFTA-nominated turn in Dennis Potter's TV landmark “Pennies From Heaven,” Hoskins' film breakthrough came in his late thirties with the role of conflicted East End crime boss Harold Shand in the 1980 gangster classic “The Long Good Friday,” which earned him another BAFTA nod.
It was another London hardman role, in Neil Jordan's 1986 noir “Mona Lisa,” that earned him the most acclaim of his career, winning him Best Actor at Cannes, plus as Golden Globe, a BAFTA and all three top US critics' awards. He was nominated for the Oscar, losing to Paul Newman.
That paved the way for a successful dual career in Hollywood and the UK: two years later, he had the biggest hit of his career with the lead in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” in which he gamely played the straight man to the titular cartoon bunny.
Subsequent career highlights have included “Mermaids,” “Nixon” (in which he played J. Edgar Hoover), the Shane Meadows films “Twenty-Four Seven” (which earned him a European Film Award for Best Actor) and “A Room for Romeo Brass,” “Felicia's Journey,” “Mrs Henderson Presents” (which earned him another Golden Globe nod) and “Made in Dagenham.” (He'd probably have preferred audiences to forget “Super Mario Bros.” and “Spice World: The Movie.”)
His most celebrated recent role was in Jimmy McGovern's gritty British TV drama “The Street,” for which he won an International Emmy. (Proving his cross-generational reach, he also featured memorably in the video for British hip-hop artist Jamie T's 2006 debut single “Sheila.”) He directed two features, most notably the dark, Romany-themed drama “The Raggedy Rawney” which played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes 1988.