Actor Bob Hoskins: A Man for All Roles

Bob Hoskins didn’t look like a movie star.

He once said he had played lots of bad guys because “most horrible dictators are short, fat, middle-aged men.”

But Hoskins, who died this week at age 71, had an incredible range not initially suggested by his fireplug body and bulldog features.

In a screen career that spanned four decades and more than 60 movies, he played just about every sort of role there is, from comic leading man to threatening crook. He was sometimes the star of the show but more often than not a solid supporting player.

For a time in the 1980s Hoskins seemed to be specializing in mobster roles (The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa). But then he had an international hit playing opposite a world of cartoon characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

He was Captain Hook’s bumbling crewman Smee in Hook and, just a couple of years ago, a dwarf in Snow White and the Huntsman.

Hoskins could be comic, heroic, or sympathetic. He starred in a few big-budget Hollywood productions, but his natural habitat seemed to be the low-budget, independent British feature.

Unsurprisingly, Hoskins is well represented in the Library’s DVD collection. Here are just a few of his films available for checkout:

Pennies from Heaven (1978): Before launching a film career, Hoskins starred in Dennis Potter’s legendary British TV miniseries.

The Long Good Friday (1980)

The Cotton Club (1984)

Brazil (1985)

Mona Lisa (1986)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Hook (1991)

Maid in Manhattan (2002)

The Sleeping Dictionary (2003)

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)

Hollywoodland (2006)

Made in Dagenham (2010)

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.

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