RIP Bob Hoskins, a force to be reckoned with during his four decade acting career.
And with his legacy including roles in The Long Good Friday, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and, the guiltiest of all guilty pleasures, Super Mario Bros. - we’re in no danger of forgetting about the great man anytime soon.
But to toast his career properly, we've picked out five classic turns in a few forgotten gems…
Lost in a flurry of Oscar nominations - a party of which he wasn't included - it’s easy to forget about Hoskins’ contribution to Oliver Stone’s 1995 Richard Nixon biopic, appearing as J Edgar Hoover. Though as anyone to have paid the film any recent attention will attest, the power plays made by the FBI chief when up against the morally misled Nixon provide some of the most intriguing parts of the film. You even forgive the odd slip of accent.
Four years earlier, Hoskins took on the mantle of a much darker historical figure: Lavrenty Beria. A Soviet police tyrant who worked directly under Joseph Stalin and blind to the massacre of millions around him, we see Beria hound luckless protagonist Ivan Sanchin, a private film projectionist for the Kremlin, even embarking on an affair with his wife. Hoskins’ coldly removed performance really does give Stalin’s personal guard dog some bite.
Criminally underrated, this Brummy-set 1999 thriller saw Hoskins playing a catering manager who also has a deadly secret - he’s a serial abuser of young women and as the drama unfolds so does his deep obsession with a young Irishwoman in particular. The film’s voyeuristic nature is interesting enough, but it’s Hoskins’ skin-crawling schlub who gives the action its vice-like grip.
Pennies From Heaven
Peppering unflinching drama with moments of utter fantasy, Dennis Potter changed the face of post watershed television with his 1978 mini-series Pennies From Heaven, also flagging up Hoskins as one to watch. The actor’s frighteningly raw talent was brilliantly used in Arthur Parker, the travelling music sheet salesman whose life is quickly beset with tragedy and the odd musical number. It was Blue Velvet before Blue Velvet.
Coming almost full circle, Hoskins provided another acting master class in a BBC TV series some 30 years later, starring in a one-off episode of Jimmy McGovern’s The Street. He plays Paddy Gargan, a pub landlord who bans a rowdy young man only to be threatened by the lad’s violent father when he doesn’t revoke it. Spoiler alert: he gets a battering, but it’s the ensuing crisis of conscience from Gargan towards his community, that makes Hoskins’ disillusioned barkeep so watchable.