Bob Hoskins, one of Britain’s most-loved actors, has passed away at the age of 71 after a bout of pneumonia.
Hoskins was reportedly surrounded by family in a British hospital when he passed away on Tuesday night. Less than two years ago, the actor announced he would be retiring from showbiz after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and would be focusing on life with his family.
Despite his small size, Hoskins was known for having a formidable presence on screen. His gruff manner and distinctive cockney accent were put to good use as he rose to fame through a number of British gangster films in the 1980s.
Hoskins journey to his ultimately successful career was a long and unusual one. Raised in a rough area in North London, he left school at the age of 15. His father had plans for him to be an accountant, but he soon gave up on this before embarking on a series of unusual jobs throughout his earlier twenties. These included working as a camel herder with Bedouin tribes in Syria, farming bananas on a kibbutz in Israel, acting as a crewman within the Norwegian merchant navy, spending time as a London chimney sweep and even performing as a circus fire-eater.
Returning to London, Hoskins fell into acting when he accompanied a friend to the pub who was auditioning for a local theatre group. After being mistakenly handed the script, his read-through resulted in him getting the job and he soon discovered a taste for the stage.
After spending several seasons working with the Royal National Theatre, Hoskins’ breakthrough television role came in the controversial BBC drama Pennies From Heaven. His major film debut followed in 1980 with his portrayal of a doomed London gangster alongside Helen Mirren in The Long Good Friday.
Over the following years Hoskins’ star began to rise, and in 1986 he received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a petty criminal in the drama Mona Lisa. His roles ranged from starring opposite a cast of cartoon characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, to portraying the FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover in Oliver Stone’s Nixon.
Hoskins’ final acting role was in the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman. He is survived by his wife Linda and his four children.