Actor Bob Hoskins passed away today at the age of 71. Most people remember him as Eddie Valiant in the 1988 Robert Zemeckis classic “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, and that is my first memory of him as well. He had done a lot of TV before and some after, but it was a string of roles films he most likely got based on the ‘Roger Rabbit’ movie that he really made an impression on me.
Between 1990 and ’91 he played some memorable characters and great supporting roles starting with “Critical Condition” a little-known gem starring him and Denzel Washington. Back when Denzel was doing genre pictures, Hoskins played a racist cop who gets a heart transplanted into him that belonged to Washington a lawyer he hated in life. Then Denzel’s ghost starts to haunt him into trying to find out who murdered him. It’s a great performance by Hoskins, who seemed to be channeling Eddie Valiant since there are scenes that require him to act against nothing. I remember watching it every time it came on cable.
That same year he played along-side Cher in “Mermaids” as Lou the loveable guy who puts up with Cher’s crap the whole movie, but you love every scene with him and a young Christina Ricci. The following year he gave a strong supporting role once again in “Shattered” a suspense/thriller starring Tom Berenger as an amnesiac trying to solve the mystery of his accident and visions he keeps having. He partner’s up with Hoskins who is a part-time P.I. who helps him put the pieces of his puzzled life together. It’s all very edgy Hitchcockian done really well by Wolfgang Peterson. This was one film my mother would rent multiple times from the video store.
Also in ’91 he played a much more memorable character than Dustin Hoffman did in Spielberg’s “Hook”. Hoskins Mr. Smee was everything it should have been, he was a wickedly fun pirate before they would become that way over ten years later in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films.
Yeah, people bashed the Mario Bros. movie, so Hoskins went back to smaller roles and television. He didn’t pop on my radar again until 2005 in the Jet Li action film “Unleashed” where he played Bart, the evil mobster who raised Li’s character like an attack dog.
So now that he’s gone, there will be lists of his best work out there. But for me these strings of films stick with me the most, and I will most certainly be looking out for great performances of his that I missed. The man smiled with his whole face, and in my opinion is still the best actor ever to hold his own with an animated rabbit.
–Robert L. Castillo