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Smee is Captain Hook's right-hand man. He seems an oddly genial man for a pirate; Barrie describes him as "Irish" and "a man who stabbed without offence" – and is shown in the multiple pantomimes or movies of Peter Pan as a rather stupidly entertaining man interested in loot rather than Hook's more evil pleasures. Smee typically represents a humorous side to pirating, often portrayed as a portly man with a bulbous nose and red cheeks, but J.M. Barrie has hinted at a darker side. There is some, admittedly sparse, evidence that he has been 'sourcing' women from Neverland for his own ends. This is most tangibly expressed in the film Hook, where a Smee, played by Bob Hoskins, is apparently popular with the adult women of Neverland, but with a clear sense of fear present in their 'adoration'.
Like the other men of Neverland, Smee is ignorant of what a mother is. Early on, Wendy considers that if she were to have a pirate for a pet, she would choose Smee. When captured by Hook, every child in the brig loves Smee - he cannot lay a fist on them and does their darning - despite his belief that they fear him. Hook contemplates that Smee has good form without knowing it, which is of course the best form of all. He almost tears into Smee for this but knows that clawing a man for having good form is very bad form. In the Disney film, when Smee tells Hook that shooting a man in the middle of his cadenza isn't good form, Hook replies with "Good form, Mr. Smee? Blast good form! Did Pan show good form when he did this to me?" in which he refers to the time Peter Pan cut his hand off and threw it to the crocodile. Smee offers to save Wendy from the plank, if only she promises to be his mother - an offer she refuses, J. M. Barrie using the words, "Not even for Smee".
Smee's position on the Jolly Roger is presented inconsistently. In Peter and Wendy he is identified as the ship's bo'sun. In most Disney storybooks Smee is said to be first mate (the position held by Starkey in the novel), and this would explain him being addressed as 'Mister Smee' by Captain Hook, although some refer to him as the cook; in the Disney film he refers to both the first mate and the cook in the third person. However, he consistently acts as Captain Hook's "left hand man" (though with varying degrees of personal loyalty).
In the Disney film, Smee was voiced by Bill Thompson, and animated by Ollie Johnston. In Return to Never Land and other Disney productions, he is voiced by Jeff Bennett. Kazuo Kumakura does his Japanese voice. In the 1991 Steven Spielberg film Hook, Smee is portrayed by actor Bob Hoskins. In the 2003 film, Smee is portrayed by Richard Briers. Smee appears in Disney's House of Mouse and the Kingdom Hearts videogames. Smee also appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a costumed character.
In J. V. Hart's Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth, "Smee" is said to be short for the name "Bartholomew Quigley Smeethington".
In Hook, Smee (Bob Hoskins) is more concerned with himself than his loyalty to Captain Hook, and can be seen trying to escape the ship with assorted treasure near the end of the movie. He is also apparently popular with some of the adult women in Neverland.
Smee is also an important character in the novel Peter and the Starcatchers and Peter and the Shadow Thieves, both written by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. He is loyal to the Black Stache, the name held by Captain Hook before he lost his hand.
Smee features prominently in The Wendy Trilogy, a song-cycle retelling of the Peter Pan story in which Wendy Darling accepts Captain Hook's offer to become a pirate instead of refusing as in original versions of the story. Smee plots with Captain Hook against Wendy and later injures her during a battle, inadvertently causing the death of Hook, in the second song of the cycle, and is mentioned as taking a grateful retirement in the third song.
In the animated series by Fox, "Peter Pan & The Pirates", Smee is portrayed as a somewhat simpleminded man of Irish nationality, a small and somewhat ratty fellow with a full beard and moustache. He had a tendency to stutter, and often bungled things, but was zealously loyal to Captain Hook, and perhaps was assigned to his position as bo'sun as a result of this loyalty.
Smee has been played by:
- George Shelton - 1904 production of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up
- Edward Kipling - Peter Pan (1924 film)
- Bill Thompson (voice) - Peter Pan (1953 film)
- Bob Hoskins - Hook and Neverland (2011 SyFy miniseries)
- Jeff Bennett - Return to Neverland
- Richard Briers - Peter Pan (2003 film)