Pete Postlethwaite, RIP

By Charlotte Bumstead
The man Steven Spielberg once referred to as “the best actor in the world today,” died in a hospital in western England on Jan. 2, after a long battle with cancer. A memorable face in the world of film for over 30 years—perhaps due to his prominent cheek bones and fascinating character—Pete Postlethwaite would have turned 65 next month.

His career highlight in the limelight is considered by many to be his best-supporting Oscar-nominated role in the 1993 hit, In the Name of the Father. Other unforgettable performances include: his role as Friar Lawrence in Romeo + Juliet (1996); his work under director Spielberg in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Amistad (1997) where he derived the flattering compliment; playing the grizzled newspaperman in The Shipping News (2005); and most recently, his powerful part as the Irish mobster/flower shop owner in The Town (2010).

Born and raised in England, Postlethwaite was initially a drama teacher before turning his acting expertise into a full time career. Like many English actors, he began performing on stage at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. He branched out into film and TV in the 80s, with a strikingly authentic performance as a wife abuser in the British film Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988). He continued from there, taking on versatile roles most frequently in the working-class variety.

Beyond the star culture, he was a political activist known for his hostility toward the war in Iraq. He was also an advocate for the fight against global warming, using a wind turbine at his home to generate electricity, along with other “green” variations to his lifestyle.

Despite his admired reputation in Hollywood, Postlethwaite preferred the rural life in England. Described by friends and colleagues as honest and down-to-earth in a profession filled with big egos, he will be forever remembered by his wife, Jacqui, his son Will and daughter, Lily.