The actor Bob Hoskins has died. He was only 71. He gave up acting a couple of years ago when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s; death was said to be from ‘Complications following pneumonia.’
Many will remember him best for his roles in several of Dennis Potter’s television works. Any actor favoured by Dennis Potter is likely to be good, and probably an interesting person too. Hoskins was perhaps a touch typecast: he always seemed to be playing the slightly-disreputable-simple-cockney-with-a-heart-of-gold. Even when he played an out-and-out villain, as in ‘The Long Good Friday’, the values of sympathy, warmth, humour and general decency typical of the best of those who have led un-sheltered lives were evident: there is a bit in that very dark film where the Hoskins character remarks of a colleague whose body is being taken away in an ice-cream van ‘That’s not very nice, is it? Goin’ aht like a Raspberry Ripple.’
I knew him during the extended rehearsals, production week, and first (and last) run of a dire musical called ‘Songbook’. Actors spend much more time offstage, drinking tea and chatting in the Green Room, than on, and he was much like the characters he played: there was, as they used to say, no ‘Side’ to him. He will be missed, both in and out of the theatre.