Was there ever an actor more quintessentially London than Bob Hoskins, who has died at the age of 71? He may have been born in Suffolk, but he moved to Finsbury Park at two-weeks-old and the city was in his blood. His travels may have taken him to Hollywood and beyond, but his greatest roles were the ones which allowed him to explore the toughness and beauty of the city he adored. We’re thinking of gangster Harold Shand in ‘The Long Good Friday’, the ultimate Thatcherite mobster, or suburban sheet-music salesman Arthur Parker in Dennis Potter’s ‘Pennies From Heaven’ – or even his messed-up plumber Spoor in Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’, a London movie in all but name.
We interviewed Hoskins back in 2008 and asked him about his connection to London. ‘It’s my home,’ he told us. ‘I’m a Londoner through and through.’ But his greatest, most impossibly Hoskins-ish answer came when we asked him how he picked his scripts. ‘Cold bum test,’ he laughed. ‘I take the script to the khazi in the morning and if I end up with a cold arse I think: This has got to be good. If you notice you’ve got pins and needles you think: Fuck me, this must be a good one.’ Well, Bob, you sure could pick ’em – and you will be missed.