This story first appeared in the May 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Bob Hoskins was the quintessential character actor who became a star. He’d had a career playing every bald, round-faced historical figure of note, from Pope John XXIII to Winston Churchill to Benito Mussolini, but it was as Harold Shand, the bullet-shaped Brit gangster with the guttural Cockney accent in 1980’s The Long Good Friday, that he first was noticed in a film role.
“The dynamism of Hoskins’ performance … is one of the film’s magnetic attractions,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter. Born in Suffolk, England, Hoskins never had taken an acting class. He’d been a window cleaner and merchant seaman and had studied to be an accountant. He claimed to have fallen into acting in 1969, when he was waiting in a bar for a friend’s theater audition. He was handed a script, told he was next and got the part. “When Bob came on the scene, no one had seen the likes of him,” Pierce Brosnan, who had a small role in Good Friday as an IRA hitman, tells THR.
A best actor Oscar nominee for 1986’s Mona Lisa, Hoskins, who’d been married twice and had four children, died April 29 in London from pneumonia. He was 71.