My favorite Bob Hoskins role

A look back at his Best Actor-nominated role in the 1986 noir drama.

Countless obits have already paid homage to 71-year-old British actor Bob Hoskins, who died on Tues., April 29, of complications from pneumonia. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2012.

Hoskins played a wide range of roles but was often typecast as the gruff middle-aged guy with a heart of gold — and more than one had mob ties. American movie-watchers remember him best from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and critics have praised his turn in Felicia's Journey as his best. 

My personal favorite Bob Hoskins role was his Oscar-nominated portrayal of George in Neil Jordan's 1986 drama Mona Lisa. I have fond memories of watching it over and over on cable while skipping school in my senior year of high school.

In the film, Hoskins plays a rough-around-the-edges but good-natured mob flunky who served time to cover up for his gangster boss (Michael Caine). After he's released from prison, George takes a job chauffeuring an ill-mannered call girl named Simone (Cathy Tyson). He falls for her, of course, but she preys on his good nature to do a favor that has a cruel twist. 

The film preceded Jordan's more popular noir film with a twist, The Crying Game, setting a tense but understated tone for underworld dramas we don't often see in the U.S. — it has more story and character than sex, drugs and shoot 'em up violence. But best of all is sweet underdog George. You can't help but root for him. Hoskins had the emotional depth and nuance to make him relatable — and utterly lovable. 

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