Sad news: British actor Bob Hoskins, who shot “Passed Away” in Pittsburgh and earned an Oscar nomination for “Mona Lisa,” has died at age 71 after suffering from pneumonia. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012.
I met and interviewed him in October 1991 after his bout of globe-hopping. He had been in Paris to make “The Favor, the Watch and the Big Fish,” then Moscow for “The Inner Circle,” stopped home for Easter holidays with the family, did “Hook,” spent summer in the English countryside with his children and headed for Pittsburgh.
When he told friends he was heading here, they blanched. “Everybody said, ‘Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh? It’s this old steel town,’ ” he recalled, supplying the appropriate looks of shock, horror and pity.
“It’s very pretty — look at that,” he gestured, toward the city visible from the (then) Pittsburgh Vista Hotel windows. “Some of the buildings you’ve got here are beautiful, and the people are wonderful.”
“Passed Away,” released in April 1992, used such locations as DeLuca’s Restaurant in the Strip District, O’Brien Funeral Home on the North Side, an Oakmont home and Allegheny Cemetery (resplendent in fall colors) while pretending to be southern Connecticut.
Maureen Stapleton starred as the widowed maternal head of an idiosyncratic family in the comedy about an Irish-American clan. Hoskins played the eldest son, who tries to step into father Jack Warden’s dominating role. The cast also included Blair Brown, Peter Riegert, Pamela Reed and Tim Curry.
At the time of our talk in October 1991, he said he realized that when “Hook” came out, he would be the only man in the world who’d been to the two places where every kid in the world wanted to go: Never, Never Land and Toontown.
He played Smee in Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” alongside Robin Williams as Peter Pan, Dustin Hoffman as Hook and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. And he famously had teamed up with the Toons in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
Hoskins told me that after his son Jack, then 3 at the time of “Roger Rabbit,” saw the movie, he quit talking to his father.
“It took me two weeks to find out what it was. He thought any father who’s got friends like Yosemite Sam or Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and doesn’t bring them home to meet his son is ....” a candidate for daddy dearest, to tidy up the language a bit. “I don’t think he believes me yet,” he joked.
A statement from Hoskins’ family — wife Linda and children Alex, Sarah, Rosa and Jack — said, “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob.”
His last role was as one of the seven dwarves in “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
(Photos courtesy of AP/Matt Dunham and Walt Disney Studios)
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