Bob Hoskins Works "TwentyfourSeven"
by Stephen Garrett
For twenty-five years, Cockney actor Bob Hoskins has made a career out
of playing wild-eyed, hard-nosed tough guys — in England and in
America, on stage and on screen. Larger movies like “Who Framed Roger
Rabbit?“, “Hook“, and “Nixon” have let him amplify his stereotype to
broad, brilliant strokes of caricature, while to smaller films like his
Oscar-nominated role in “Mona Lisa” he has brought subtle textures of
tenderness. For his latest character, in Shane Meadows’ feature debut
“TwentyfourSeven” (opening today from October Films), Hoskins plays
Darcy, a small-town boxing coach trying to build up the self-esteem of
the local working class teenagers. Meadows wrote the part specifically
for Hoskins, and his performance in the movie has already won him a
European Academy Award for Best Actor.
indieWIRE: Part of your decision to be in “TwentyfourSeven” was because
you felt that Shane Meadows’ short films were brilliant. How were they
Bob Hoskins: They’re very rough, but he chose these little stories, and
they way he tells them — his style — it’s completely his own. Most of
them are about crime. But most of what happens where he lives is
crime. It’s like watching a young Tarantino, but more off the wall —
right off the wall. Extraordinary stuff. It’s very difficult to
describe them, because they are so real. What he’s got those kids to do
— and they’re just his mates — some of their performances are just
iW: You’ve mentioned that you learned acting from observing women and
they way they express emotion. How did Shane, on the set, direct the
other actors, so many of whom had never acted before?
Hoskins: I don’t know — he knows what he wants, and somehow
unconsciously he gets it. Like that one scene where one of the lads, in
his first boxing match, loses the fight and he’s crying? That was the
actor — he just suddenly started [literally] crying.
iW: That wasn’t scripted?
iW: And you cradling his head as he cries — that wasn’t scripted?
Hoskins: No. It was all [basically] scripted, and we stuck mainly to
the script, but you could float in and out of it. Whatever happened —
I don’t know. It was a very natural process.
iW: Are Shane’s friends in the film going to keep acting?
Hoskins: Yeah, I think so. Because they’re so creative, There’s so
much energy there. Really, if they don’t make movies, they’ll rob banks
— and brilliantly.
iW Did you ever have anyone in your life like your character, Darcy —
someone who really inspired you when you were in high school?
Hoskins: I hated school, and school hated me. Teachers fucking hated
me. But there was one teacher — Mr. Jones — and I still see him
today. He’s a big Welshman, and he’d say, “You’re all right. Inside
you’re fine. A bastard outside, but inside, you’re fine.” And he
turned me on to literature; turned me on to reading. First thing was
Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. And then Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. I was
16; up until then, I’d never read a book at all. And then I was reading
a book a week.
iW: Not only do you have a very natural presence onscreen, but you’re
also a great character actor as well, from “Hook” to “Nixon”. Is there
a favorite style of acting for you?
Hoskins: I don’t know how to describe acting. It’s just a thought
process, as far as I’m concerned. You just got to try and find the
character’s psyche — what’s going on inside his head.
iW: But you’ve done so much stage work as well, which requires much more
of an external expression, as opposed to acting for the camera, which is
Hoskins: Acting is a relationship. One of the first people you make a
relationship with on the set is the cameraman, because he’s looking at
you. And you dance, you know what I mean? You learn to dance
together. And on stage, you dance with an audience. It sounds
pretentious, but it kinds of runs through the bloodstream — the camera
and you, it’s the same pulse. And with an audience, they’re running
through your bloodstream.
iW: Have you ever thought of working with Mike Leigh, or approached him
about working together?
Hoskins: I’ve known Mike for years; we’re friends. But he’s never asked
me to work with him. But there’s that whole long rehearsal process, and
I think he thinks, “Oh, he’d never come.” You know? (Laughs). But I
love his work. And I’ve never actually spoken to him about work, ever.
You know — two plumbers get together, they don’t talk about fucking
pipes, do they?
iW: You’ve acted in large pictures and small, studio and independent
films, from Spielberg to Shane Meadows. Do you see a consistency among
the different directors you’ve worked with?
Hoskins: No; they’re very different. Francis Ford Coppola, he just
wants it wild. And he creates it wild. Steven Spielberg; he’s done it
all. And you’re wondering why he’s there, you know? Standing there
with a big grin on his face, but you don’t realize the work that he’s
put into it.
iW: And Oliver Stone?
Hoskins: Oliver is an extraordinary presence. He’s actually a
presence, you know? Quite intense, but fucking wonderful.
iW: And what’s Shane doing next?
Hoskins: I’m supposed to be in it. It keeps changing. The first time
it was about a 12th Century monk, and then it was a cowboy film; and now
it’s something else. He keeps asking me, “you are in it, ain’t ya?”
And I say, “Yeah, but show me what the fuck it is!” That should be
interesting. And I’ve just written a movie…and I’m going to direct
iW: That’s great! What’s the story?
Hoskins: It’s called “The Dance Hall in the Passage”. Bits of my youth
in the Sixties, put together and turned into a story. A fantasy,
really. I’m supposed to be setting it up now. But the producers are
getting really pissed off at me, because I keep running off and
[Stephen Garrett is a film editor and freelance journalist based in Los