Bob Hoskins: working class lad

April 30, 2014 at 10:44 pm (cinema, culture, drama, good people, Jim D, RIP, television, workers)

Bob Hoskins, who died today aged 71, was a great character actor and, in life, one of the good guys. A working class lad, he started his career (accidently and, by his own account, drunkenly) at the left-wing Unity Theatre in 1969. Colleagues who worked with him on one of his last films, Made in Dagenham, (2010) confirm that he was passionate about the film’s main themes of working class women’s rights and trade unionism.

Although he specialised in tough-guys and gangsters, he always managed to convey a sense of vulnerability and even innocence in these roles. – as in the memorable closing scene of his first major film success, The Long Good Friday (1981):

Perhaps his finest role as the tough-with-a heart was as the small-time crook who falls in love with Cathy Tyson’s character in Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa (1986):

In fact, reflecting on his work over the years, I find it difficult to decide on a favourite. His role as the Chandleresque private dick in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is a personal favourite, but in the end I’d have to plump for his first major TV role, as the doomed sheet music salesman in Dennis Potter’s masterpiece, Pennies From Heaven (1978):

So long, Bob

4 Comments

  1. Bob Hoskins: working class lad | OzHouse said,

    […] Apr 30 2014 by admin […]

  2. runner500 said,

    A good retrospective, he has been at the heart of so many good films, you’ve mentioned most of them but I would add his role as Raysie in ‘Last Orders’ (2001).

    • Jim Denham said,

      I haven’t seen ‘Last Orders’ but note from what I’ve read today, that you are not alone in regarding it as one of his best performances. I must check it out.

      The Guardian’s obit calls him “the British Cagney”, which had never previously occurred to me but is obviously spot-on once you think about it:

      http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/apr/30/bob-hoskins

      • runner500 said,

        If you are a reader, the book on which it is based, by Graham Swift, is fantastic too.

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