Mr. Postlethwaite was recently seen in some of last year’s most critically acclaimed films: “Inception,” and “The Town,” but it was his emotional role as Giuseppe Conlon in the 1993 biographical film “In the Name of the Father” that earned him an Oscar nomination. He also had a memorable role as Father Laurence in the 1996 Leonardi DiCaprio/Claire Danes “Romeo + Juliet.”
Andrew Richardson, a journalist and friend of the actor, has described Mr. Postlethwaite’s death as peaceful despite a lengthy battle with cancer.
Although Mr. Postlethwaite wasn’t always the leading man onscreen, he remains as something undoubtedly better: the scene stealer. Some fans will remember him as Mr. Kobayashi in the Bryan Singer classic “The Usual Suspects.” As a mysterious representative of the notorious Keyser Söze, Postlethwaite goes beyond playing the messenger. In a film where everything isn’t as it seems, Postlethwaite carries the role of Mr. Kobayashi with a certain allure starting with his composed demeanor right down to the shift in his accent.
Mr. Postlethwaite’s strength as an actor was his ability to hold your suspension of disbelief, and play all his characters with an absolute truth to their reality; qualities which awarded him an Oscar nomination. As a member of the audience, you never doubted the array of personalities onscreen: a father who will fight for his son’s innocence in “In the Name of the Father,” a sympathetic priest who helps a pair of star-crossed teenagers risk everything for love, the foster father of a demi-god in “Clash of the Titans” and even a florist whose profession as a crime boss makes him a force to be reckoned with in “The Town.”
No matter the length or demands his characters onscreen, Mr. Postlethwaite always brought his best without compromise. This even included his own political views which were center stage during the 2009 premiere of “The Age of Stupid,” a film which tackles the subject of climate change. Mr. Postlethwaite threatened to return his prestigious OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) medal if plans to develop new coal-fired units at Kingsnorth power station took place.
Mr. Postlethwaite’s legacy may be indelible onscreen, but he was more than a brilliant actor. He was a loving husband, father, activist, and a good friend to those who knew him. He will be deeply missed by those who loved his films, and loved him best.
Mr. Postlethwaite leaves his wife, Jacqui, and two children, Will, 21, and Lily, 14.