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Rest in peace to Bob Hoskins, who just died of pneumonia at 71. He’s probably best known for his role opposite that infuriating animated bunny in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or for his appearance in the slightly overrated Mona Lisa. This is a shame because his finest hour, surely, was his performance in the ’80s London gangster classic The Long Good Friday.
The key bit is at the end, which I’m not going to spoil for those of you haven’t seen it. (And you must! And when you’re done, make it a double-whammy and watch the Michael Caine ’70s gangster classic Get Carter!, which for my money is the only film of that genre that touches it). Suffice to say that in less than five minutes Hoskins, without saying anything — it’s just a close up of his face as he sits in the back of a car — provides the best acting moment not only of his career, but of almost anyone’s acting career.
Besides being a great actor he was, by all accounts, a top bloke. Over at Breitbart London I’ve listed nine of the reasons why we’re all going to miss him. Here’s a couple of tasters, to whet your appetite…
1. He didn’t take himself too seriously.
In early 1986, a script arrived in the post at Bob Hoskins’ house for a film called The Untouchables, with a note attached from the director Brian De Palma asking him to read it and then come to Los Angeles to discuss the role of Al Capone.
“I went to meet him at his hotel and he said, ‘Really, I want Robert De Niro to play him,’” recalled Hoskins in an interview, years later. “I thought, ‘Well, great. What am I doing here?’”
He was there, it transpired, because of De Niro’s proposed fee, which was causing much consternation at Paramount. De Palma agreed to sign Hoskins as a back-up for the role on a ‘pay or play’ contract and in the end, De Niro got the part.
“Linda, my missus, was opening the post one morning and said ‘What’s that?’ and it was a cheque for £20,000,” he recalled. “It said, ‘Thanks for your time Bob, love Brian.’ I phoned him up 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.’”
This is a vintage Hoskins anecdote: uproariously self-deprecating and told with such impeccable modesty it borders on fibbing. He tactfully omitted two details from the story. Firstly, that he was Paramount’s first choice for the role, and the studio only caved to De Palma’s demand for De Niro over fears the film lacked sufficient star power. And secondly, the amount he received was closer to £120,000 than £20,000.
2. He was a real man.
“One of the things I’ve realised is that I am very simple. My wife asked me once if I loved her. I said: “Look love, I’m a simple man. I love you. End of story.” But I guess you gotta keep saying it with women. I guess she needed reassurance. Blokes are very arrogant, they always assume the woman still loves them.’
RIP Bob. We’ll miss you.