We’ll miss you. Movie watchers everywhere will miss that distinctive lilting British accent, the twinkling eyes above pronounced cheekbones, the bulbous crooked nose overshadowing an expressive mouth. Most of all, we’ll miss additions to the striking and wide-ranging performances that we will, thankfully, be able to watch forever.
Pete Postlethwaite began his career as a drama teacher and playing bit parts on British TV, with his first film part in 1977’s The Duellists, starring Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine. He stayed mostly in television for another decade, until becoming well-known to audiences everywhere through roles in the 1992 films Alien3 and The Last of the Mohicans.
In 1995, he played a pivotal role in The Usual Suspects, as the lawyer who communicates instructions to the gang on behalf of Keyser Soze. He went on to roles both large and small, but always memorable, in films including Romeo + Juliet (1996), Brassed Off (1996), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Amistad (1997), Rat (2000), The Shipping News (2001), Aeon Flux (2005), Closing the Ring (2007), Clash of the Titans (2010), and Inception (2010). I had just watched him Friday night in one of his most recent roles, as a flower-arranging Boston mobster in Ben Affleck’s impressive new film The Town. He’ll appear in one more film, slated for release this year, called Killing Bono.
What is notable about Postlethwaite — besides his inimitable looks — is that he could play everything from innocent, to sweet, to smart, to downright evil. And he could do it all believably. I can’t think of a film I’ve seen that isn’t better for his being a part of it.
Luckily for his fans, like me, Postlethwaite was quite prolific in his thirty-three-year career. He played nearly one hundred roles in films and TV series. Thanks to that, there are plenty of chances to catch his wonderfully heartfelt performances.
Postlethwaite died yesterday after a prolonged battle with cancer. He leaves us with an creditable film legacy.
So long, farewell, rest in peace. We’ll see you on the screen.