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Closing Credits: Pete Postlethwaite

PetePostlethwaite.jpgThe actor Pete Postlethwaite has died aged sixty-four leaving behind him a career filled with memorable characters and roles, and making a lasting impression on actors and directors all the way to Steven Spielberg who described him as the best actor in the world, and that's praise indeed for he's worked with a few actors in his time.

Amazingly though Postlethwaite was never going to be an actor, instead he originally had his heart on becoming a priest, he didn't however and he was a teacher until, at the age of twenty-four though he found his true passion and began training at the Bristol Old Vic to take to the stage.

I think I speak for all film fans when I say that I'm glad he did.

In his early roles he worked with other big names to be such Bill Nighy, Alan Bleasdale and Jonathan Pryce and became the artistic director of The Little Theatre Company working with Daniel Day Lewis. His stage career continued and in the eighties he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company.

During that time he appeared in a performance of Taming the Shrew and the BBC have a great quote from the actor recounting what that performance meant to him, or rather what meeting the Queen afterwards meant to his Mum.

" My mother always thought that acting was a phase, she assumed I'd go back to teaching at some point. But when she saw me with the Queen, she finally accepted that I was serious about it."

He moved from stage to small television roles in soaps and drama serials with a few television movie roles mixed in between. His first feature roles was in the 1977 The Duellists from director Ridley Scott, already he was marking his career as one filled with appearances with talented people, but his next feature role wasn't until the 1983 film Fords on Water.

In 1984 he appeared in the British comedy A Private Function and the following year he appeared in the television film production of Cyrano de Bergerac by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In 1988 he starred in The Dressmaker and Number 27, small films but with some notable names in them, as was the 1988 film To Kill a Priest.

In 1990 he appeared in Hamlet directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring an impressive cast. It was his biggest feature to date, and not surprising either considering his stage background.

1992 saw him move to the world of science fiction with Split Second and the far superior Alien 3, another huge feature for his career. Step over the well cast Waterland and we're straight onto another big feature, The Last of the Mohicans, and by now we were starting to see the regular pattern of strong supporting actor but never the lead.

Skipping over Anchoress in 1993 we see in the same year another big film, In the Name of the Father from director Jim Sheridan, and once again he's supporting with a powerful cast around him and standing strong throughout.

After a couple of Sharpe's film appearances came one of his biggest, most memorable, and perhaps most strangely cast roles in the Bryan Singer film The Usual Suspects as Kobayashi. A strange casting indeed, but again he performed amongst a host of other big actors and I doubt if many other actors could have amongst that cast.

That film saw him hit his busiest year so far in 1996 with When Saturday Comes, James and the Giant Peach, DragonHeart, Crimetime and two other roles that stand out in his career.

The first was Father Laurence in Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo + Juliet a fine choice for the actor considering his roots, and the second in the excellent Brassed Off, one which seems to be getting a fair amount of mentions when people are recollecting his career in film, and quite rightly too.

The Serpent's Kiss was in 1997, again a not so big film but with a good cast, and that was followed by The Lost World: Jurassic Park which I just saw again at Christmas and I wished we'd seen more of his character. He managed to bring more depth to that character than you would expect of the role and the film.

Bandyta in 1997 saw him starring amongst more big names with Til Schweiger and John Hurt. It's interesting to see that even the smaller films in his career saw him appearing next to memorable and powerful names in the acting profession.

Speaking of which he was back with Steven Spielberg in Amistad that very same year and another exciting film and cast, and he followed that with the much smaller Among Giants and a run of similarly sized films until the 2001 The Shipping News opposite a raft of stars, and talking of big stars he appeared with Sophia Loren in the 2002 Between Strangers and Lauren Bacall in the 2004 film The Limit.

He appeared in the Walter Salles remake of Hideo Nakata's film both titled Dark Water, which wasn't too bad and further stretched the genre of films and characters he could turn his hand to. He returned to horror and remakes in the 2006 The Omen as Father Brennan.

The Constant Gardener (Filmstalker review) and Aeon Flux (Filmstalker review) in 2005 were short roles, and in 2007 he appeared in Closing the Ring, the last film Richard Attenborough directed.

Solomon Kane in 2009 and Clash of the Titans in 2010 are roles we should also skip over, but Inception (Filmstalker review) is a film that also ranks up there with his biggest appearances, although for me his character in The Town (Filmstalker review) was a great character and he really poured on the power for that role.

His last role has yet to be seen, in the 2011 Killing Bono, and if you felt there were no other reasons to see that film then you have one definite one now.

Pete Postlethwaite has had a varied career, one that began with stage appearances that led him to the Royal Shakespeare Company and one that shouldn't be belittled by the sad fact that he was always a supporting actor and never really a leading one. However that didn't stop him from playing some very memorable characters in some very big films, characters and films that we will continue to watch and remember for a long time to come.

As always, our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Pete Postlethwaite



One of the finest character actors around - RIP Pete, you'll be missed.


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