When I read that Bob Hoskins had died, this one really hit hard. Hoskins certainly had a long and colorful career, which includes an Oscar nomination for the 1986 film Mona Lisa. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t seen a lot of his work, but I certainly plan on doing so. I know many have already written extensively about his most famous role as hard-boiled detective Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), but you can add one more to the mix. Hoskins’ performance as this character is one of my all time favorite performances ever in a motion picture, so I wanted to give the man his due like everybody else.
We’ve seen plenty of extraordinary performances over the years of actors performing alongside motion capture or CG characters, but Hoskins was the pioneer who did it throughout an entire film. What impressed me so much about Hoskins’ performance was just how damn easy he made it look. Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit have some of the best chemistry ever on screen. Even when you watch Hoskins berate the weasels, or gush over Jessica Rabbit, it was seamless. You don’t really care about that stuff as a kid, but when I revisited the film as an adult, I couldn’t understand why this man wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.
Speaking of being a kid, even as a young lad, Eddie Valiant was one of my favorite characters from the film. I was just as entertained by him as I was Roger, Jessica, Baby Herman, and the weasels. Watching the film now, it’s not even close. Valiant is the heart of the picture. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of those movies we’ll never see again. It’s filmmaking at its finest, and the movie simply does not work without Hoskins’ performance. I love how a kid’s film gave the actor so much to work with. Valiant has a tragic back story with his brother, he drinks, he’s clever, and was even a bit of a smart ass at times.
It’s hard to pinpoint one stand out moment for Hoskins in the film, as the entire performance is flawless. If I had to pick one though, there’s a sequence where Valiant is free falling next to Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, which was a surreal sight to behold at the time. Despite Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse being in the same frame, I still believe Valiant was the stand out in that scene, which pretty much sums up how effective Hoskins was.
I was actually thinking about whether there would ever be a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit the other day, but I always felt Hoskins was too old to reprise the role, and therefore you shouldn’t do it. Sadly, we’ll never get to see that for sure now. I just wanted to pay respects to a wonderful actor who gave a performance that has stuck with me for as long as I can remember, and will continue to do so in the years going forward.
cover photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesstewart/