Bob Hoskins, who had a diverse career playing gruff bad guys and occasional good guys, died of pneumonia on Tuesday at the age of 71.
The British-born star, who retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, didn’t pursue acting until his late 20s. After getting his start on stage in London, his first big role was playing a sheet music salesman on the 1978 BBC musical drama “Pennies From Heaven,” which established him as an actor. He received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in a TV role for it.
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From there he jumped to movies, playing tough guys in 1980’s “The Long Good Friday,” where he was a London gangster trying to go clean, and 1986’s “Mona Lisa,” which saw him as an ex-con who landed a job as the driver of a call girl. The latter role scored him an BAFTA Best Actor award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
American audiences should remember him best for his role in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” The flick, in which real characters interacted with animated ones, saw him as private eye Eddie Valiant, who was trying to solve a murder involving cartoon character Roger Rabbit. When the film was released in 1988, it was the 20th highest-grossing film of all time and the second highest earning film for that year, coming in behind “Rain Man.”
His other movie roles included playing Cher’s love interest in “Mermaids” (1990), Captain Hook’s second-in-command in “Hook” (1991), J. Edgar Hoover in “Nixon” (1995), and Scrooge’s former boss in “A Christmas Carol” (2009).
Hoskins was not a fan of his role in 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.,” which was based on the 1980s Nintendo video game of the same name. Playing the title role was one of his biggest regrets, he told U.K.’s The Guardian in 2011. He listed it as his “worst job,” “biggest disappointment,” and said it was the one role he would edit from his past if he could.
His final role was in 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman,” which starred Kristen Stewart. He sported several prosthetics to play Muir, one of eight dwarves, who could always see the truth.
After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the fall of 2011, he announced his retirement in August 2012. A statement issued on his behalf at the time said, “He wishes to thank all the great and brilliant people he has worked with over the years, and all of his fans who have supported him during a wonderful career. Bob is now looking forward to his retirement with his family, and would greatly appreciate that his privacy be respected at this time.”
On Wednesday morning, his agent announced his passing, saying he died at a hospital Tuesday surrounded by his family. In a statement issued by his wife, Linda, and children Alex, Sarah, Rosa, and Jack, they said they were “devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob.”