His butcherman bulk suggests he could flatten you the same way he squashes his vowels. Easily. But despite his former seaman's salty vocabulary, the ex-steeplejack's jaunty swagger, the jutting jaw and cannonball head, it's difficult for Bob Hoskins to disguise the truth.
He's a sentimental softie. To hear him tell it stardom rather sneaked up and mugged him. He is, he says, still recovering.
Hoskins, usually reticent, has provoked a dictionary of adjectives for his performances and attitude. The legendary American critic Pauline Kael called him ‘a testicle on legs'. He thinks he's a teddy bear.
But what stands Hoskins apart is his wide curiosity. He has been and seen many things. He also doesn't call a spade a spade, he calls it a ------- spade. Indeed, to record him accurately it is simpler to substitute ‘darling' for a common expletive which ends with rather the same sort of zing.
For all his cheerful Cockney image ( he was born in Suffolk and brought up in north London ) and the irritating ‘It's Nice To Talk' BT advertising campaign he is a lively thinker. On screen he expresses himself with his body but before that happens there is much research and reading. He's a thinker. And a straight-talker on an eclectic range of subjects. Reading his a chore for him:
‘I'm dyslexic so I have to read every word of a book or script. I can't just skim through and get the sense. With work I read the part to see if it's something I'm interested in doing. Then it's the director, the rest of the cast.
‘See, in my experience of making films is making films. It;'s alright people talking about what a wonderful time it was afterwards but if it's going to be a pain in the ass making it, three, five months of my life having a darling bad time, it's not worth it. That's what people don't understand.
‘If you've had a terrible experience on a film it's an asshole.If you've had a wonderful experience and someone turns around and says it's a piece of shit well darling them. As far as I'm concerned you had a great time and it's a terrific film.
‘If it's good for me I enjoy it. It's my life. It's my job. That's what I do.'
He does it again in ‘Nixon'. There's a strong British presence in Oliver Stone's three-hour tale led by Anthony Hopkins as the disgraced President. Hoskins appears as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover -- playing the manipulative lawmaker true to life as a homosexual.
It was his first gay role:' Playing a homosexual was interesting to me. It's alright playing gangsters all the time and having a gun in your hand but the gun becomes the performance.I wanted to do something more.'
Hoskins and Brian Bedford -- another British actor -- who co-starred as Hover's lover Clyde Tolson stayed in character when the cameras stopped. Hoskins says they had fun with macho director Stone constantly kissing and cuddling him. It was an escape from the controversial role.
Gay activists in America ( one of the nation's most politically correct groups) were disgruntled by his Hoover . Hoskins makes no apologise:' That was part of the role. I'm given a character, I'm given history, I'm given research and that was what I came up with. If people are offended by what can I say? I did the job the best way I knew.'
Hoskins prides himself on his work ethic. ‘Acting is my religion. A real performance is as much as shock to the system as a road accident. My accent is my identity. It's me. And that's whi I swear a darling lot too. I like the way I talk. I like the way I am. It's a matter of integrity and of necessity.
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