“I love this picture of me with my late dad when I was about two years old. We spent a lot of time together when I was a toddler. There are hundreds of us together among our vast collection of family photographs – at the park, at the zoo, or putting the final touches to a rather stocky snowman. When I was young, he gave me a lot of his time and attention.
He was great at having fun. If my younger brother Jack and I ever went on a roller-coaster ride, he was only too happy to come along. He was also good at entertaining us. He used to read a version of The Three Little Pigs by A Wolf. It was a retelling from the wolf’s point of view and he narrated the beleaguered wolf in an Al Capone voice.
Being the child of an actor had its drawbacks, particularly when my dad was away filming, but there were bonuses, too.
I’ll never forget being taken out of school for three months in 1991 so that we could join him in Los Angeles where he was filming Hook, Steven Spielberg’s story of Peter Pan. We were wide-eyed with delight when we were taken to the Neverland set which featured a full-scale pirate ship, an elaborate pirate town and a 20ft crocodile with a huge clock in its mouth.
Dad, however, never let stardom go to his head. He occasionally enjoyed the glamour, but was never particularly interested in awards and accolades. And he was very funny about missing out on an Oscar for best actor for his role in the 1986 film Mona Lisa. “Tattiest do I’ve ever been to in my life,” he’d say about the Academy Awards.
Dad was often referred to as ‘hard man Bob Hoskins’ and would oblige journalists by playing up the cockney charm. But the reality was different. He frequently acknowledged that he owed a lot of his success to my mum.
She managed the purse strings and created the stable home life that allowed us all to thrive. He wasn’t able to create stability for himself.
What’s more, he wasn’t always an easy man to be close to. As I grew older, he was often emotionally unavailable and distant. At root,
he was a private, solitary man. Nevertheless, I still felt a powerful bond, even though it was mostly unspoken, because we shared many of the same character traits.
Our lives were shattered in 2011 when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease.
Dad knew he had only a few years to live, but showed unshakeable courage and kept a lot of the true horror of his condition to himself because he didn’t want to be a burden.
In his final years, I saw him almost every day. As the disease took its toll, I would make a point of placing my hand in his and telling him I loved him. He would raise it to his lips for a gentle kiss and then hold the back of my hand to his cheek and say, ‘I love you, too.’”
Rosa Hoskins’ book, It’s All Going Wonderfully Well: Growing Up With Bob Hoskins, is out now (Arrow Books, £8.99). See Express Bookshop at expressbookshop.co.uk.