British actor Bob Hoskins, known for his roles in films including Who Framed Roger Rabbit, has died at the age of 71 after a bout of pneumonia, his family said yesterday.
The gruff Londoner, who rose to fame in British gangster films in the 1980s and went on to have a long career as a Hollywood character actor, died in hospital on Tuesday night.
Hoskins, who was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for Mona Lisa in 1986, retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Samuel L. Jackson was one of the first to pay tribute, saying on Twitter that he was “truly saddened” at the loss. “A truly Gigantic talent & a Gentleman. R.I.P,” he said.
Born in Suffolk after his mother was evacuated from London during the second world war, Hoskins left school aged 15. He claimed he only got into acting by accident, after being mistakenly called to try out for a play while waiting for a friend to audition.
Hoskins began getting television and film roles in the 1970s, and came to attention in Britain as star of Pennies from Heaven, Dennis Potter’s 1978 television miniseries about a Depressionera salesman whose imagination sprouts elaborate musical numbers. It was later turned into a film starring Steve Martin.
His film breakthrough came in the 1980 thriller The Long Good Friday, playing an East End gangster hoping to profit from redevelopment of London’s docks.
Hoskins specialised in tough guys with a soft centre, including the ex-convict who chaperones Cathy Tyson’s escort in Neil Jordan’s 1986 film Mona Lisa.
One of his best known roles was as the detective trying to work out Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the eponymous cartoon hero, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1989.
Although Hoskins was known for his distinctive Cockney accent, he renounced it for an American drawl when the work required, including in Oliver Stone’s biopic Nixon in 1995, in which Hoskins played former US president J. Edgar Hoover.
More recent success came with a Golden Globe nomination for Mrs Henderson Presents with Judi Dench, while other hits included Steven Spielberg’s Hook and Mermaids with Cher.
Hoskins was highly prolific and many of his films sank without a trace. But there was an outpouring of affection on Twitter following news of his death.
Hoskins’ last role was one of the seven dwarves in the film Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart. Agence France-Presse