Peter William Postlethwaite
February 16, 1946
January 2, 2011
Postlethwaite was born in Warrington, Cheshire, England, the fourth and youngest child of Mary Geraldine and William Postlethwaite. He trained as a teacher at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, London and taught drama before training as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Postlethwaite was a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company and other acting troupes.
After routine early appearances in small parts for television programmes such as The Professionals, Postlethwaite's first success came with the film Distant Voices, Still Lives in 1988. He received an Academy Award nomination for his role in In the Name of the Father in 1993. His performance as the mysterious lawyer "Kobayashi" in The Usual Suspects is also well-known, and he later made appearances in several successful films, including Alien 3, Amistad, Brassed Off, The Shipping News, The Constant Gardener, and as Friar Lawrence in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.
In 2003, he was both the physical and vocal actor for the villain Deeth in Zixx: Level One, a Canadian TV series created by IDT Entertainment. The same year, he went to Australia, touring a 90-minute one-man play called Scaramouche Jones where he is a clown trying to find out why he is who he is before he dies at midnight. Directed by Rupert Goold, who would also direct his Lear in 2008, Postlethwaite played every character. As well as Australia, the play toured Canada, New Zealand and Britain to great acclaim.
Steven Spielberg called Postlethwaite "the best actor in the world" after working with him on the The Lost World: Jurassic Park, of which Postlethwaite says: I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was, "The thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world."
One of his more notable roles was as antagonist Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill in ITV's Sharpe series, which starred Sean Bean. Postlethwaite has said that this was one of his favorite roles and that he and Sean played so well off each other because of their mutual love and respect for each other. Bernard Cornwell, the author and creator of the Sharpe series, specifically wrote Hakeswill's character in later novels to reflect Postlewaite's performance as the character in the TV series. Postlethwaite also co-starred with Sean Bean in When Saturday Comes.
Postlethwaite next starred in the Liverpool stage production of King Lear in 2008 at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool and at the Young Vic, London. He appears in the climate change-themed film The Age of Stupid, premiered in March 2009. Having recently installed a wind turbine in his garden, he said was really impressed by the film.
He was made an OBE in the 2004 New Year's Honours List. At the premiere of The Age of Stupid on 15 March 2009, he promised the UK Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband that he would return this medal if the government gave the go-ahead for new coal-fired units at Kingsnorth power station.
Postlethwaite lived in Shropshire, near Bishop's Castle, with his wife Jackie, a former BBC producer, whom he married in 2003 in Chichester, Sussex. They had two children, both of whom were born in Shropshire: William John (born 1989), a drama student at LAMDA, and daughter Lily Kathleen (born 1996).
Pete Postlethwaite died on 2 January, 2011 after suffering from pancreatic cancer.