Remembering Bob Hoskins in Our Favorite Roles
Best known for playing Cockneys and gangsters, Bob Hoskins is one of those actors who manages to make some kind of indelible mark on anyone who watches him work. His tough as nails approach to any role commands your attention, and his gravely voice boomed at you in a way that was all parts intimidating, charismatic, and (somehow) soothing. He not only brought our favorite characters to life, but he also managed to make really awful movies seem less painful. In the advent of Bob Hoskins’ passing, at the age of 71, we remember some of our favorite roles he’s played over the years.
1) Lou Landsky in Mermaids
Cher may have been the headline in 1990’s Mermaids, but Hoskins stole every scene as the simple shop keep. Where Rachel Flax seemed to be spinning out of control with her love life and with her daughters, Lou was there to pick up the pieces and become the perfect balance for her. This role could have easily been given to someone who was “more attractive,” but then it would have just fallen into obscurity under the category of “every other chick flick out there.” We’re not saying Cher, Wynona Rider, and Christina Ricci couldn’t hold the movie all on their own. Their dynamic together was all about growth and understanding one another as mother and daughter, and women overall. What Hoskins brings to the table as Lou is being the proper foil to Cher’s Rachel to help usher in her own growth as a mother.
2) Mr. Smee in Hook
Mr. Smee is one of two roles that first comes to mind usually when we think of Bob Hoskins. In Hook, he plays opposite Dustin Hoffman (Capt. Hook). In the original J. M. Barrie story, Mr. Smee is the only pirate in Hook’s crew that doesn’t seem to fit the bill. Even the Lost Boys don’t mind his company. All other incarnations before Hook made him into a stupid, entertaining fool with a bulbous nose and a portly figure. When it came time for Hoskins to fill the role, Mr. Smee went from the comic relief for the sake of having comic relief to the nurturing better half of an odd couple. And Smee was no idiot — he convinces Hook to keep Pan’s children in Neverland forever by using their father’s constant string of broken promises and missed opportunities as a catalyst — just an optimistic fool trying to keep his dear captain from committing suicide. The movie may not have had a stellar release in the theaters, but years of airing on TV bought a lot of affection from an entire generation and then some. Hoskins as Smee was so loved in Hook that he got to reprise his role in the SyFy miniseries, Neverland.
3) Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was a deceptively mature movie considering all of the Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons making up half the cast. Many parents (including mine) did not know what they were getting into. Robert Zemeckis brought a live-action, cartoon hybrid and made it into a rough and tough classic noir detective story. Hoskins as Valiant fit the bill perfectly by bringing in the type of character for which he’s mostly known. While also carrying the film as its only male human lead, Hoskins sells every insane moment with classic deadpan humor. And can forget that sing and dance number towards the end?
4) Mario in Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. was so bad, it was good, then it turned bad again. Yet, it’s still a part of our lives one way or the other, and there’s absolutely no way we can forget it. Honestly, there isn’t anything good about this movie we haven’t already said. One redeeming, shining light, however, was Hoskins. He tried his best to hold the film together. To a point, it worked. Every scene he was in seemed far less painful than scenes without him. In a 2011 Q & A, he expressed his involvement with the movie as “the biggest disappointment of his career.” Ouch. Still, he brought our favorite plumber to life, and we love him for that.
5) Muir in Snow White and the Huntsman
Snow White and the Huntsman was such a disappointment. So much potential for a good story, wasted. The two bright stars of the entire film were Charize Theron’s sadistic and evil Ravenna and Bob Hoskins’ Muir. At this point, we as a generation believe this man can do no wrong, no matter what terrible movie he appears in. After Snow escapes the clutches of her step-mother, she eventually runs into a band of dwarves. Amongst them is Muir, a blind elder dwarf with the gift of premonition. Lisa Kennedy from The Denver Post said it best when “Only Bob Hoskins as the blind seer Muir comes close to making us care. We can almost glean Snow White’s heroic possibilities through his clouded eyes. As much as we’d like to, we certainly can’t from [Kristen] Stewart’s efforts.”
The dear Bob Hoskins retired from acting after Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012 following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease. He passed away April 30 from complications after contracting pneumonia.
Which role will you best remember him playing?