Bob Hoskins: 1942 - 2014

The actor dies age 71

Bob Hoskins

Sad news to report this afternoon: veteran British actor Bob Hoskins has died, aged 71. His agent said Hoskins died of pneumonia in hospital on Tuesday. He announced his retirement from acting in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Born in 1942, Hoskins’ career spanned 40 years. It started with various TV roles – including one in Dennis Potter’s Pennies From Heaven – and ended with recent supporting parts in Snow White And The Huntsman and Made In Dagenham.

Arguably his most respected turn was his breakthrough role as Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday, for which he was widely and deservedly praised. In 1986 his brusque-but-tender turn as a call girl's confidant in Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. After that, he took parts in films as diverse as Brazil, Nixon, Neverland and Spice World. His take on Smee was a scallyish highlight of Steven Spielberg's Hook.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Hoskins, however, was best known to generations of youngsters for playing the lead role (along with his cartoon co-star) in Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988. The groundbreaking live-action / animation hybrid wasn’t straightforward to film, and afterwards Hoskins began to believe that his co-stars were real. “I had learnt how to hallucinate," he remembered. "If you do that for eight months it becomes hard to get rid of.”

With his gruff voice and stocky appearance, Hoskins was a beloved character actor for Hollywood, in demand with directors such as Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone (he played J. Edgar Hoover in Nixon) and Robert Zemeckis (as well as Roger Rabbit, he appeared in Zemeckis’s A Christmas Carol in 2012). But as Empire readers revealed when he retired in 2012, the honour roll of Hoskins favourites is long and glorious.

Following the announcement, his family released the following statement: “Bob died peacefully at hospital last night surrounded by family, following a bout of pneumonia. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time and thank-you for your messages of love and support.”

He is survived by his wife Linda, and his children Alex, Sarah, Rosa and Jack.