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Dame Helen Mirren pays tribute to 'brother' Bob Hoskins

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 01, 2014

By Eva Jones

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Dame Helen Mirren has paid tribute to her big-screen "brother" Bob Hoskins, who has died aged 71.

The actor, whose career included starring roles in Mona Lisa, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and opposite Dame Helen in the classic London gangland thriller The Long Good Friday, died from pneumonia.

His agent, Lindy King, released a statement from his family saying he died in hospital on Tuesday night.

His wife, Linda, and children, Alex, Sarah, Rosa and Jack, said: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob. Bob died peacefully at hospital last night surrounded by family, following a bout of pneumonia. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time and thank you for your messages of love and support."

The star, who landed a best actor Oscar nomination for Mona Lisa, retired from screen work in 2012 after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, saying he had enjoyed "a wonderful career".

Dame Helen, who also appeared in Last Orders opposite Hoskins, said: "Bob was a great actor and an even greater man. Funny, loyal, instinctive, hard-working, with that inimitable energy that seemed like a spectacular firework rocket just as it takes off.

"When I worked with him on his iconic film The Long Good Friday, he was supportive and unegotistic. He was never sexist, when many around at that time were. I had the honour of watching the creation of one of the most memorable characters of British film. I watched his brilliant Bosola in The Duchess Of Malfi, and then had the greatest of pleasures in playing again opposite him in the film Last Orders. Playing again with him was like playing a duet with a brother I had grown up with, which professionally I had. I personally will miss him very much, London will miss one of her best and most loving sons, and Britain will miss a man to be proud of."

Hoskins, who was born in Suffolk after his mother was evacuated from the capital, grew up in north London and left school at the age of 15 to work in a series of odd jobs – including a stint in a circus – while dreaming of getting into acting.

He claimed he got his big break by accident after being mistakenly called for a theatre audition, but he proved a natural and stage success led him into TV and small film parts.

His breakthrough role came in Forest of Dean playwright Dennis Potter's 1978 series Pennies From Heaven in which he played lovelorn sheet music salesman Arthur Parker.

His role as George, the petty criminal who becomes entangled with a high-class hooker, in Mona Lisa won him an Oscar nomination for leading actor and by the mid-1980s he was an established Hollywood star with appearances in blockbusters including Who Framed Roger Rabbit and opposite Cher in Mermaids.

The diminutive actor with the instantly recognisable gravelly cockney accent was also familiar to millions for his ad campaign for British Telecom in which he told viewers: "It's good to talk".

Among those paying tribute were Stephen Fry who tweeted: "Oh no, Bob Hoskins. Gone? That's awful news."

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