Bob Hoskins Smee Sails Off One Last Time at 71

Bob Hoskins Smee Sails Off One Last Time at 71

Waking too early this morning brought the news via Twitter from an Australian chum who tweeted that the great Bob Hoskins had passed on at 71. The first thought that flew into a half-asleep brain was that Smee would sail off one last time for Neverland. This natural actor will no longer thrill, excite, entertain or amuse audiences in new projects, but Hoskins will always live on in his wide range of roles in films. His career, which started at the ripe old age of 26 was an impressive one and this short Cockney actor brought a believability to every role he played, with the possible exception of his Mario Mario in the 1993 film Super Mario Bros. A film, he personally detested.

Good Friday a Long One With Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren

Good Friday a Long One With Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren

Ever since stumbling across The Long Good Friday years ago and which is one brilliant little independent British gangster film starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, I can never start the Easter weekend without thinking of this gem. This small budgeted movie which caused me to fall in love with not only Mirren, but the short dynamo of talent that is Bob Hoskins never grows old. The mists of time have obscured just how the film came to be viewed, but it was in England that I first saw it. Having lived there long enough to recognise quite a number of Brit actors who were now quite big in the world of television and film. Watching this film over Easter weekend has become a tradition and not just for the beautiful Mirren.

Bob Hoskins Another Fallen Idol

Bob Hoskins
Bob Hoskins (Photo credit: lewishamdreamer)

Some folks may well dispute my referring to Bob Hoskins as an idol. But to me that is exactly what he is. I first saw him work in the brilliant low budget gangster film The Long Good FridayHe mesmerized me as the small time hood with big ambitions,  Harold Shand was going to move up in the world. At the end of the film, Shand’s face is that of a cornered animal who knows that it has been caught and is going to die. Hoskins performance in that film turned me into an instant fan. For life.

By that point in his career Hoskins had already been working steadily for years. Eight to be exact. He was busy learning his craft and it showed. Like another of my favourite actors, Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins was the ‘real deal.’ Although he was born in my neck of the woods in Suffolk, he learned his acting spurs by doing it, not learning it in some classroom.

Mona Lisa was the next thing I saw him shine in. As George  the hapless jailbird who falls in love with the hooker his performance actually made me cry. Moving stuff, especially considering that he’d just finished making me laugh at his performance in Sweet Liberty.

Then adopting an American accent he played  gumshoe Eddie Valiant whose partner was murdered by a ‘toon in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.This role not only saw him win the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor, with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, but also resulted in Bob suffering from a nervous breakdown from exhaustion. The demanding role of Eddie knocked Bob down but not out.

Once again he adopted another American accent to play opposite Cher and Winona Ryder in the popular film Mermaids. Whether Hoskins is making us laugh as Smee in Hook or Neverland or impressing us with his characters ‘hardness’ in Doomsday he never fails to impress. Hoskins is one of those actors that makes you believe that he is the character he”s portraying.

Now after appearing in over 70 films, he’s retiring from the acting world because he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

It is news of the most depressing sort.

He is now a member of that bitterly exclusive club of actors/celebrities who have been stricken by this debilitating disease. His fellow sufferers include Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. Parkinson’s affects some 127,000 people in the UK and has no known cure.

Michael J. Fox has publicly fought for more education about the disease and increased funding for research to find a cure.

Hoskins has released a public statement saying that he intends to spend more time with his family. He will be sadly missed by his fans, but if anyone has earned a right to retire, it’s Mr Hoskins.

Enjoy your rest Bob, and know that we’re hoping that a cure can be found, not only for you but for the rest of the 127,000 sufferers in the UK and the rest of the world as well.

Press advert for Parkinson's Disease Society
Press advert for Parkinson’s Disease Society (Photo credit: HowardLake)

Doomsday (2008): Don’t Fear the Reaper

As the poster so clearly states: A New Film From Neil MarshallDoomsday is the third film to be written and directed by Neil Marshall. The first two, Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005),  I have written about before. These three films, if watched in the order they were made, show Marshall’s growth and  increased status as a writer/director. Each progressive film benefits from an increased budget and the calibre of actors goes up as well.  More importantly, each film’s scope is enlarged; the first two films were a cozy affair. Single locale, set number of actors and scenes, FX capable but not too flashy. Doomsday in terms of all the above mentioned items, scoops them both.

Filmed for an estimated budget of $30,000,000 Doomsday looks impressive. The cast comprises the usual Marshall regulars, Sean PertweeEmma CleasbyNora-Jane NooneMyAnna Buring, and Craig Conway (Conway gives a stand out performance as the mad-as-hatter ruler of a blood thirsty mob of survivors – Sol). The cast also includes some big namesBob HoskinsMalcolm McDowell (as Sol’s pop, you can see where Sol gets his personality from), Rhona Mitra, like I said big names.

In the not too distant future a killer virus known as The Reaper sweeps through Britain. The government decide to contain the infected behind a huge fortified fence that stretches from coast to coast, cutting off Scotland completely and leaving everyone trapped behind the fence to die. The United Kingdom is condemned by the rest of the world for their actions.

Jump ahead thirty years and two things happen almost simultaneously. Satellites that have been orbiting the  contaminated area north of the fence spies movement and The Reaper has made an unwelcome return. A small group of elite specialist are drafted into entering the contaminated zone. Their mission is to find  a research laboratory that was working on a cure for the virus before they were trapped in the containment area and to find out who has survived and how.

Rhona Mitra is one-eyed Eden Sinclair (this role so obviously got her cast in Underworld 3) who leads the team of experts into the area. Eden, whose “glass-eye” doubles as a camera with video recording capability, is hard as nails and  very independent. Once she and her team breach the wall and head into the laboratory, they get jumped by Sol’s people. They are captured and as part of Sol’s twenty-four hour madness, Sean Pertwee is again killed at the beginning of the second reel.

The film has a very ‘Mad Max‘ feel to it. From the outfits that Sol’s people wear, to the vehicles they use at the end of the film in a protracted Mad Max chase scene, the film feels like an English version of the Mel Gibson cult favourites. Marshall himself stated the the Mad Max trilogy inspired him and that he was paying his own homage to the films.

It was very nice to see Malcolm McDowell as Sol’s father, the lab scientist who has decided to remake the survivors behind the wall into his vision of Darwin’s theory. His madness dictates that he can willing sacrifice his own children if they do not obey him and his rules. Once Eden returns from the infected territory with a “cure” for the reaper virus, she  sets up the very people who sent her and her team to almost certain death. She puts in motion  the mechanics for their downfall.

Doomsday is a cracking film. It has a snappy pace and the actors all do well. The bigger budget shows in the end result and I am guessing the Marshall will have an even bigger budget for his next film.

Marshall’s next film is The Last Voyage of Demeter,  Dracula fans will recognise the name of the ship, it is the one that transports the Count to England in the book. It looks as though  Marshall is going back to his horror roots. The film is due to be released in 2013. I am looking forward to it.