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Bob Hoskins, British Actor, Dies at 71


Bob Hoskins, the bullet-shaped British film star who brought a singular mix of charm, menace and Cockney accent to a variety of roles, including the bemused live-action hero of the largely animated “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” has died. He was 71.

A spokeswoman, Clair Dobbs, released a statement by his family on Wednesday saying that he had died in a hospital, where he had been treated for pneumonia. No other details were given. A much-honored, Oscar-nominated actor, Mr. Hoskins had announced his retirement in August 2012 after learning he had Parkinson’s disease.

Mr. Hoskins, who had virtually stumbled into acting, found early acclaim as the kind of ruthless British gangster he played in 1980 in his startling breakthrough feature, “The Long Good Friday,” and later in Neil Jordan’s 1986 “Mona Lisa,” which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. But his filmography also included more playful roles. He was the pirate Smee in two variations of “Peter Pan” — Steven Spielberg’s 1991 “Hook” and the 2011 British television production “Neverland.” He played Cher’s unlikely love match in “Mermaids” (1990).

And he voiced Charles Dickens’s Old Fezziwig in the 2009 animated version of “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Robert Zemeckis.

It was Mr. Zemeckis who cast Mr. Hoskins as the cartoon-hating pulp- fictional detective Eddie Valiant in the landmark hybrid “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” in which Mr. Hoskins shared the screen with animated characters, including the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit, voiced by Kathleen Turner.

In a 2009 interview with The Telegraph of London, Mr. Hoskins said his doctor had advised him to take five months off after finishing the film.

“I think I went a bit mad while working on that,” he said. “Lost my mind. The voice of the rabbit was there just behind the camera all the time. You had to know where the rabbit would be at every angle. Then there was Jessica Rabbit and all these weasels. The trouble was, I had learnt how to hallucinate.”

Mr. Hoskins received a number of prestigious acting awards over his four-decade career, including the Bafta award, the Golden Globe and the Cannes Film Festival prize as best actor for “Mona Lisa,” in which he played an ex-convict hired by a crime boss to act as chauffeur and unlikely bodyguard for a high-priced call girl (Cathy Tyson). He also received an International Emmy Award for “The Street” (2006); the Canadian Genie Award for the director Atom Egoyan’s “Felicia’s Journey” (1999), based on the William Trevor novel; and a Screen Actors Guild nomination as part of the cast of Oliver Stone’s 1995 “Nixon,” in which he played J. Edgar Hoover.

Survivors include his wife, the former Linda Banwell; their children, Rosa and Jack; and two children, Alex and Sarah, from his first marriage, to Jane Livesey.

Robert William Hoskins was born on Oct. 26, 1942, in the historic Suffolk town of Bury St. Edmunds, to which his mother, Elsie Lillian, had been evacuated during heavy bombing in World War II. An only child, he was reared in London, where his father, Robert, was a bookkeeper and his mother was a cook at a nursery school.

After leaving school at 15, he worked as a porter, truck driver and window cleaner. He took a course in accounting but dropped out.

Then, in 1968, he accompanied a friend to an acting audition where he was mistaken for a candidate and was asked to read for a part. He was offered the lead.

As soon as he started acting, he said, he knew it was for him.

“I fit into this business like a sore foot into a soft shoe,” he told The Telegraph in 2009. “But when I started I thought, ‘Christ, I ought to learn to act now I’m doing this for a living.’ I was a completely untrained, ill- educated idiot. So I read Stanislavski, but I thought it was all so obvious. Same with Strasberg. He just seemed to be saying look busy. Impress the boss. I soon realized actors are just entertainers, even the serious ones.”

He would find success on television, in Dennis Potter’s 1978 BBC mini- series “Pennies From Heaven”; onstage, playing Nathan Detroit in the wildly successful 1982 revival of “Guys and Dolls,” directed by Richard Eyre, at the National Theater in London; and on film, in “Mona Lisa” as well as Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” (1985) and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Cotton Club” (1984), in which he played the British-born gangster Owney Madden.

In the mid-1990s, however, came projects that he considered the low points of his career. In one, he replaced Danny DeVito in “Super Mario Bros.,” a 1993 film he dismissed as “a nightmare.” (He once joked that Mr. DeVito might play the title role should a movie ever be made about Mr. Hoskins’s life.) Another disappointment was “The Secret Agent,"Christopher Hampton’s 1996 adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel. Mr. Hoskins blamed 20th Century Fox for not adequately supporting the film, which drew poor reviews.

“I was very proud of it,” he said in a 1998 interview with the British newspaper The Independent. “Conrad is merciless. He don’t give you any sympathy for any of the characters. It’s very slow, it’s very laborious, but very good.

“Fox killed it stone dead. I think they thought they were getting a

Victorian James Bond. But if you look at Conrad and you look at me, you know different.”

He went on to star in “TwentyFourSeven,” a 1997 film directed by Shane Meadows, a portly and bald man whom Mr. Hoskins described as his fellow “cube.” He played Alan Darcy, a loner who organizes idle working-class youths into a boxing club.

It was a role Mr. Hoskins called “a wonderful study in loneliness.”

“To play a character as tough as this and yet to portray this socially crippled character was the biggest challenge I’ve had in years,” he added. “I’ll tell you this. This film is more important to me than anything I’ve ever done.”

One of the more widely circulated and humorous anecdotes about Mr. Hoskins involved a film he wasn’t in at all: Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” (1987).

During preparation for filming, Mr. Hoskins had been asked to come to Los Angeles to talk about playing Al Capone, a part that eventually went to Robert De Niro. In fact, as Mr. Hoskins told the story, Mr. De Palma was quite straightforward about the fact that he really wanted Mr. De Niro, but that Mr. De Niro’s price was creating consternation at Paramount. Mr. Hoskins was engaged as a backup, in the event the studio could not come to terms with Mr. De Niro.

Sometime afterward, Mr. Hoskins received a check for 20,000 pounds and a thank-you note from Mr. De Palma. “I phoned him up,” Mr. Hoskins recalled, “and I said, ‘Brian, if you’ve ever got any other films you don’t want me in, son, you just give me a call.'”

© 2014 The New York Times Company

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I worked with Bob Hoskins on the film, "Mermaids", opposite Cher. Bob was a true professional, putting up with all of Cher's BS and hours of makeup. We also replaced the Director two weeks in, from Frank Oz to Richard Benjamin.


Bob Hoskins always came to work happy and respectful of every cast and crew member. A great guy, fine actor, a real mensch.


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Chainsaw Tommy May has passed. My condolences to his family and friends of which there are many.  Tommy is my kind of Hollywood Legend. He was a true original, a leader who could think on his feet, the John Wayne of grips. RIP Tommy. You set a high bar,




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Marydixie asked me to pass this on. 

"It's with a heavy heart that I let you know of the passing of an all time Great sound mixer. Christopher Taylor has passed away. He had an enormous heart, and loved his friends as though they were family. He was never as happy as he was on set. He loved his job, and he loved the people he worked with. Chris will be remembered by his friends for his big smile, and tender heart. Rest in peace dear friend. You are missed."

A memorial will be held at Marydixie's home on June 20th at 1 pm. PM me for details.



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