Bob Hoskins was a former British circus worker who became a Hollywood giant.

But the London-raised actor never lost his Cockney accent as he rose from appearances on British TV to the status of box office gold around the world.

The star, who was born in Suffolk after his mother was evacuated from the capital, grew up in north London and left school aged 15 to work in a series of odd jobs including a spell in a circus, as well as being a porter and lorry driver.

But he always dreamed of getting into acting and was destined for a life in showbusiness thanks to his instantly likeable personality and his ability to convey drama and emotion.

Bob Hoskins and Kristin Scott Thomas during a press preview for Luigi Pirandello's play 'As You Desire Me'

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 credits range from the seminal Dennis Potter BBC musical drama Pennies From Heaven in 1978, which mixed dark storylines with characters miming popular pre-war songs, to Hollywood blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which combined live action with cartoons.

Ben Affleck gets to grips with Bob Hoskins at the premiere of Hollywoodland

His big-screen breakthrough came in the tense home-grown underworld classic The Long Good Friday, which co-starred Helen Mirren, and proved a perfect vehicle for his Cockney character and his ability to convey barely-suppressed rage.

His role as George, the petty criminal who becomes entangled with a high-class hooker, in the 1986 hit Mona Lisa won him an Oscar nomination for leading actor and a Golden Globe.

More recently, he played a father figure to the women activists fighting for their rights at the Ford car plant in the British hit film Made In Dagenham, which also featured rising star Sally Hawkins.

Other co-stars in Hoskins films included Cher in the US hit Mermaids.

Although he rose to prominence in gritty British films, he successfully built up a profile in the US, where he also starred in Hook and Super Mario Bros.

Bob and Linda Hoskins

His instantly-recognisable London accent did not stop him taking a role as FBI boss J Edgar Hoover in the 1995 film Nixon.

Despite big-budget hits, he was more than happy to appear in low-budget movies such as the Shane Meadows-directed A Room For Romeo Brass.

Hoskins, whose characters often had a heart of gold, was known for his association with a BT ad campaign, featuring the line "It's good to talk".


The star - married to his second wife Linda for 30 years - also moved into directing with The Raggedy Rawney and Rainbow.

Despite his flourishing big-screen career, Hoskins took a role in Jimmy McGovern's BBC1 series The Street in 2009, winning an international Emmy.

He was famously on standby to play Al Capone in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, until Robert De Niro agreed to take the role.

The director went on to send him a cheque for £20,000.

Hoskins said: "I phoned him up and I said 'Brian, if you've ever got any films you don't want me in, son, you just give me a call'."