RIP, Bob Hoskins: Top Bloke; Not a Bad Actor, Either—James Delingpole

 

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.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    James Delingpole: 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.’”

     Thanks for the great laugh.

    • #1
  2. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    The Long Good Friday is a riveting and intense film and a wonderful character study. Hoskins and the rest of the cast are brilliant. It was the first film that I had seen him in. His other wonderfully comic role was the repairman from Central Services in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. He shall be missed.

    • #2
  3. Jackal Inactive
    Jackal
    @Jackal

    He does play a good bureaucrat.

    • #3
  4. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    James Delingpole:

    . 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.

     Agreed.  That take is an amazingly powerful bit of acting.

    • #4
  5. user_19374 Member
    user_19374
    @MarkWoodworth

    And Flickers was a romp! Ave atque vale.

    • #5
  6. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    To the IRA – Pierce Brosnan, of all people. Great shot.

    While we’re praising him, let me me offer two more. The Cotton Club ( a guilty pleasure of mine) in which he plays Owney Madden … an Irish mobster in New York who was smart enough to get out, and the tabloid editor in Michael ( a movie that I still find pleasantly charming).

    Rest in peace.

    • #6
  7. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Brian Watt:

    The Long Good Friday is a riveting and intense film and a wonderful character study. Hoskins and the rest of the cast are brilliant. It was the first film that I had seen him in. His other wonderfully comic role was the repairman from Central Services in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. He shall be missed.

     I wrote a post about that role titled,”Machines Don’t Fix Themselves”.  

    Will check out the Long Good Friday.

    • #7
  8. SParker Member
    SParker
    @SParker

    He wasn’t too shabby on TV either.  Pennies from Heaven and a dang good Iago in Othello.  He could do the business, as he said. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I haven’t seen The Inner Circle in at least 20 years, but Hoskins’ portrayal of Lavrentiy Beria was chilling.  His was a first rate performance in a movie that deserved a far larger audience than it got.

    • #9
  10. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    Doc – Make sure your boys are in bed before watching The Long Good Friday. There are a couple of intense scenes that are pretty violent and bloody.

    • #10
  11. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    SParker:

    He wasn’t too shabby on TV either. Pennies from Heaven and a dang good Iago in Othello. He could do the business, as he said. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

     And pretty decent Mr. Micawber in BBC’s David Copperfield with a very young pre-Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe in the title role.

    • #11
  12. RightinChicago Member
    RightinChicago
    @

    hoskins

    He made a pretty good Khruschev as well.  Mr. Hoskins was a great character actor

    • #12
  13. user_124695 Inactive
    user_124695
    @DavidWilliamson

    Wonderful piece on Breitbart London, of which this is an extract – so glad to read you there, James :-)

    • #13

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