Bob Hoskins, the tough-guy British character actor best known for his lead performance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, died April 30 of pneumonia. He was 71. Hoskins, who was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in Neil Jordan’s neo-noir drama Mona Lisa, had retired from acting in 2012 because he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Hoskins grew up in London, and worked a number of blue collar jobs before making his onstage debut in 1969. He played a number of recurring characters on a variety of British television series before gaining a wider following for his performance in the 1978 BBC version of Pennies from Heaven. In 1979, Hoskins scored his first major film role in The Long Good Friday; playing a gangster attempting to break into legitimate business, Hoskins won rave reviews and established his screen persona as a working-class tough guy.
In fact, Hoskins’ two most celebrated performances were indeed as working class tough guys. In Neil Jordan’s moody mob drama Mona Lisa (1986), Hoskins played a mob hanger-on, and in Robert Zemeckis’ innovative live action-animation hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hoskins played an old-school private eye. Subsequently, Hoskins contributed supporting roles in Steven Spielberg’s Hook and Oliver Stone’s Nixon. In recent years, he also won praise for his work in smaller British films, most notably Mrs. Henderson Presents and Made in Dagenham. His final big screen credit was in the 2012 fantasy adventure Snow White and the Huntsman.
Hoskins is survived by his wife and four children.