British actor Pete Postlethwaite dies aged 64

The highly respected British actor, best known for his powerful portrayals in the likes of In the Name of the FatherThe Usual Suspects and Amistad, along with David Fincher’s not-so-well received Alien 3, passed away at the age of 64 on Sunday after years of battling with cancer.

Postlethwaite died peacefully on Sunday night at a hospital in Shropshire, England where he was surrounded by his family. Close friend, Andrew Richardson, made the announcement to the UK media today.

He was an enigmatic actor, able to capture the subtleties required for any role he undertook, and his distinct, craggy face and regional timbre gave an extra edge to his performances.

After starting his career in British television and stage, he was given his first big screen role in Alien 3, in which he played one of the monk like in-mates on a prison planet.

His career escalated thereafter and he was given a pivotal role alongside Daniel Day-Lewis in the highly acclaimed, In The Name of the Father, and then again in The Last of the Mohicans. His performance as Day-Lewis’ dying father in the former film won him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

His popularity continued to rise and after his inclusion in The Usual Suspects as Mr. Kobayashi, Postlethwaite became something of a Hollywood darling.

Subsequently he appeared in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, and two Steven Spielberg films, Amistad and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Spielberg was so enamoured by Postlethwaite that he once referred to him as “the best actor in the world,” to which he retorted, “I’m sure what Spielberg actually said was, ‘The thing about Pete is that he thinks he’s the best actor in the world.’ ”

Prior to becoming an actor Postlethwaite set out to be a priest, a move which never materialised as he instead became a teacher.

He was given the title of O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).

Postlethwaite leaves behind his wife, Jacqueline, as well as his son William and daughter Mary.

Perhaps his most underrated role is that of the librarian in the 90 minute documentary Age of Stupid, in which Postlethwaite’s character explains how the world came to an abrupt end as a result of climate calamities, seemingly caused by mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels. You can see the trailer right here:

Please share your thoughts about Pete Postlethwaite’s career or leave a tribute by posting a comment.

Read about other stars who succumbed to cancer: Simon MacCorkindale, Stephen J. Cannell, Denise Borino-Quinn, Jill Clayburgh, and Elizabeth Edwards.

images: filmreference.com, avltheatre.com

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