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Bob Hoskins — Five Memorable Performances From A Too-Short Career
April 30, 2014
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(Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

The English actor Bob Hoskins, who passed away last night after a bout with pneumonia at age 71, was best known for his role in the 1988 hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But Hoskins, who announced his retirement from acting at 69 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, was a standout performer in many lesser-known films — including Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s 1999 psychological drama Felicia’s Journey.

"Bob Hoskins was one of the most generous actors I know," Egoyan told CBC News. “He applied himself so maniacally to this role and was so involved in this characterization of a deeply troubled man that I was just in awe."

Throughout his 40-year TV and film career, Hoskins gave many unforgettable performances. Check out some of the most memorable below:

The Long Good Friday

Hoskins delivers a master class in acting as a Thatcher-era mob villain in this 1980 underworld drama. The final scene, in which he’s held at gunpoint by an IRA assassin (played by Pierce Brosnan), features a riveting two-minute close-up of Hoskins's face, as he slowly comes to the terrifying realization that he is off to meet his maker.

Mona Lisa

Again playing the hard man, Hoskins received an Oscar nomination (his one-and-only) for the role of an ex-con who becomes involved with the high-priced escort he chauffeurs.

Pennies From Heaven

This 1978 BBC mini-series showed a softer side of Hoskins that was rarely portrayed on-screen. As a travelling sheet music salesman (the same role played by Steve Martin in the film version), Hoskins frequently bursts into mimed versions of popular songs from the 1930s.

Felicia’s Journey

The late, great film critic Roger Ebert said he was "astounded" by Egoyan’s film, in which Hoskins plays a catering manager named John Hilditch — a middle-aged man who appears friendly, but also seems to be harbouring multiple secrets. "Hilditch is a real piece of work," wrote Ebert. “We see him mostly as an adult, and then in flashbacks as a child. In both manifestations he reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock, who wanted his tombstone to read: You see what can happen if you are not a good boy.”

Made In Dagenham

Hoskins returned to his working-class London roots in what would be one of his final roles. He plays a union steward in this winning dramatization of the 1968 strike at a British Ford car plant, in which female workers walked off the job in protest of sexual discrimination. "Someone has got to stop these exploiting bastards from getting away with what they’ve been doing for years," he tells Sally Hawkins in the scene below:

For more on Hoskins's life and career, see this obituary in The Guardian and this moving tribute by his daughter, Rosa.


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