Pete Postlethwaite

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Pete Postlethwaite
Pete Postlethwaite.JPG
Postlethwaite at the Make Poverty History march in 2005
BornPeter William Postlethwaite
(1946-02-07)7 February 1946
Warrington, Lancashire, England
Died2 January 2011(2011-01-02) (aged 64)
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
Years active1975–2011
Spouse(s)Jacqueline Morrish
(1987–2011; his death)
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Pete Postlethwaite
Pete Postlethwaite.JPG
Postlethwaite at the Make Poverty History march in 2005
BornPeter William Postlethwaite
(1946-02-07)7 February 1946
Warrington, Lancashire, England
Died2 January 2011(2011-01-02) (aged 64)
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
Years active1975–2011
Spouse(s)Jacqueline Morrish
(1987–2011; his death)

Peter William "Pete" Postlethwaite OBE (/ˈpɒsəlθwt/; 7 February 1946 – 2 January 2011)[1][2] was an English actor. After minor television appearances, including in The Professionals, his first success came with the 1988 film Distant Voices, Still Lives. He played a mysterious lawyer, Mr. Kobayashi, in The Usual Suspects, and appeared in Alien 3, Amistad, Brassed Off, The Shipping News, The Constant Gardener, The Age of Stupid, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Romeo + Juliet, and Inception.

In television, Postlethwaite played Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill on Sharpe. He trained as a teacher and taught drama before training as an actor. Director Steven Spielberg called him "the best actor in the world" after working with him on The Lost World: Jurassic Park. He received an Academy Award nomination for his role in In the Name of the Father in 1993 and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2004 New Year Honours list. Less than a month after his death, he received a posthumous BAFTA nomination for his role in Ben Affleck's The Town (the only such accolade the film received).

Early life[edit]

Postlethwaite was born in Warrington, Cheshire, the fourth and youngest child of William (1913–1988) and Mary Postlethwaite (née Lawless; 1913–2011), working-class Roman Catholics.[3] He had two sisters, Anne and Patricia, and a brother, Michael.[4] He trained as a teacher at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill and taught drama at Loreto College, Manchester, before training as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Despite portraying Irish characters on multiple occasions, Postlethwaite was not of Irish descent.[5]


Early in his career, Postlethwaite was advised to adopt a new surname for his acting work by his first agent and by peers who quipped that his "would never be put up in lights outside theaters because they couldn't afford the electricity". Postlethwaite rejected the advice.[6] He initially trained to be a Catholic priest[7] but opted for a career in theatre and started his career at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, where his colleagues included Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Antony Sher, and Julie Walters. Postlethwaite and Walters had an intimate relationship during the latter half of the 1970s.[8] He was a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company and other acting companies. On 13 January 1981, he took the leading role in a BBC TV black comedy by Alan Bleasdale, The Muscle Market, which was a spin-off from Boys from the Blackstuff; it was part of the Play for Today series.[citation needed]

After other early appearances in small parts for television programmes such as The Professionals, Postlethwaite's first film 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. He is well known for his role as mysterious lawyer Mr. Kobayashi in The Usual Suspects. He made appearances in several successful films, including Alien 3, Amistad, Brassed Off, The Shipping News, The Constant Gardener, Inception, and as Friar Lawrence in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.[citation needed]

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. Later that same year, he toured Australia and New Zealand in a 90-minute one-man play, Scaramouche Jones, in which he played a clown trying to find out why he is who he is before he dies at midnight, receiving a nomination for the TMA Award for Best Actor and winning the Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Solo Performance.[9] This was directed by Rupert Goold, who would also direct his Lear in 2008, in which Postlethwaite played every character. As well as Australia, the play toured Canada, New Zealand and the UK to great acclaim.[10]

In The Art of Discworld (2004), Terry Pratchett wrote that he had always imagined Sam Vimes as 'a younger, slightly bulkier version of Pete Postlethwaite'.[11]

Steven Spielberg called Postlethwaite "the best actor in the world" after working with him on The Lost World: Jurassic Park,[12] to which Postlethwaite quipped: "I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was, 'The thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world.'"[13]

One of his more notable roles was Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill in ITV's Sharpe series. The actor said this was one of his favourite roles and that he and fellow actor Sean Bean played well off each other because of their mutual love and respect. Bernard Cornwell, the author and creator of the Sharpe series, specifically wrote Hakeswill's character in later novels to reflect Postletwaite's performance as the character in the TV series. Postlethwaite co-starred with Bean in When Saturday Comes.[citation needed]

Postlethwaite next starred in a Liverpool stage production of King Lear in 2008 at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, and at the Young Vic, London. He appeared 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 extremely impressed by the film and made an impassioned call for action on climate change on its release in The Sun newspaper

"The stakes [of climate of change] are very, very high. They're through the roof. How could we willingly know that we're going into extinction ... and let it happen."[14][15][16]

Terminally ill, Postlethwaite had a minor role in the 2010 blockbuster hit Inception, playing an industrialist who is similarly dying. That same year, his performance in The Town as florist and crime boss Fergus "Fergie" Colm was well received by critics. Postlethwaite's last appearance on screen was in Nick Hamm's film Killing Bono, based on the memoir of Neil McCormick. The role was written specially for Postlethwaite to accommodate his illness.[17] The film was released on 1 April 2011. His final role was due to be in the BBC series Exile, written by Danny Brocklehurst and Paul Abbott, but he had to pull out because of ill health. Jim Broadbent replaced him in the role.[18]


Postlethwaite was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2004 New Year Honours list and received an honorary degree from Liverpool University in 2006. He received an Academy Award nomination for his role In the Name of the Father.

Personal life[edit]

Postlethwaite lived in West Itchenor, West Sussex before moving near Bishop's Castle, Shropshire. He lived with his wife, Jacqueline (Jacqui) Morrish Postlethwaite, a former BBC producer, with whom he began a relationship in 1987 and later married in 2003 in Chichester.[4] He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1990, and had one testicle removed.[19][20] Postlethwaite was a smoker from the age of ten.[21] In a March 2009 interview with Scotland on Sunday, the actor referred to his smoking habit, stating: "We've got to hope the next generation will do things differently. I'm sure that in 20 years' time the kids will say: 'Can you believe that people actually used to smoke — put these funny little things in their mouths, lit them and sucked all that crap into their lungs?"[22]

Postlethwaite appeared as a taxi driver in one of the Labour Party's political broadcasts during the 1997 general election.[23] He marched in London against the Iraq War in 2003.[24] He was an activist calling for action to prevent climate change. At the UK premiere of The Age of Stupid on 16 November 2009, he told then-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband that he would return his OBE and vote for any party other than Labour if the Kingsnorth coal-fired power station was given the go-ahead by the government.[25] The proposal to build a new power station at Kingsnorth was shelved by the coalition government in October 2010.

Illness and death[edit]

In March 2009, Postlethwaite was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,[26] from which he died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on 2 January 2011.[27][28][29][30] He left behind two children, William John (born 1989), a drama student at LAMDA, and Lily Kathleen (born 1996).[10] Postlethwaite continued acting almost to the end of 2010, showing clear signs of weight loss during his last performances. In his last two years, he worked on his memoir A Spectacle of Dust with Andy Richardson. It was published June 1, 2011.[31][32]



1975The RacerEccoShort film
1977The DuellistsMan Shaving General TreillardCredited as Peter Postlethwaite
1978Doris and DoreenMr. LomaxTelevision film
1983Fords on WaterWinston's BossCredited as Peter Postlethwaite
1984A Private FunctionDouglas J. Nuttol
1985Cyrano de BergeracRagueneauTelevision film
1987Coast to CoastKecks McGuinnessTelevision film
1988TumbledownMajor at Rehabilitation CentreTelevision film
1988The DressmakerJackCredited as Peter Postlethwaite
1988Number 27Becket
1988To Kill a PriestJosefCredited as Peter Postlethwaite
1988Distant Voices, Still LivesFather
1990HamletPlayer King
1990Treasure IslandGeorge MerryTelevision film
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1991The Grass ArenaThe DipperTelevision film
1991A Child from the SouthHarryTelevision film
1991They Never SleptPanterTelevision film
1992Split SecondPaulsen
1992Alien 3David
1992WaterlandHenry CrickCredited as Peter Postlethwaite
1992The Last of the MohicansCaptain Beams
1993AnchoressWilliam Carpenter
1993In the Name of the FatherGiuseppe ConlonNominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1994Suite 16Glover
1994Sin BinMitchTelevision film
1994Sharpe's CompanySergeant Obadiah HakeswillTelevision film
1994Sharpe's EnemySergeant Obadiah HakeswillTelevision film
1995The Usual SuspectsMr. KobayashiNational Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1996When Saturday ComesKen Jackson
1996James and the Giant PeachMagic Man
1996DragonheartBrother Gilbert of Glockenspur
1996Romeo + JulietFather Lawrence
1996Brassed OffDanny
1997The Serpent's KissThomas Smithers
1997The Lost World: Jurassic ParkRoland TemboNominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1997AmistadWilliam S. Holabird
1998Among GiantsRay
1999The Divine RyansUncle Reg Ryan
1999Wayward SonBen Alexander
1999Animal FarmJones / Benjamin
1999Lost for WordsDeric LongdenTelevision film
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1999Alice in WonderlandThe CarpenterTelevision film
1999Butterfly CollectorsJohn McKeownTelevision film
1999Animal FarmFarmer Jones
Television film
2000When the Sky FallsMartin Shaughnessy
2000RatHubert Flynn
2001Cowboy UpReid Braxton
2001The Shipping NewsTert Card
2002TriggermenBen Cutler
2002Between StrangersJohn
2003The Selfish GiantArthurShort film
2004The LimitGale
2004Strange BedfellowsRussell McKenzie
2005Red MercuryGold Commander
2005Dark WaterVeeck
2005The Constant GardenerDr. Lorbeer/ Dr. Brandt
2005Æon FluxKeeper
2006Valley of the Heart's DelightAlbion Munson
2006The OmenFather Brennan
2007Ghost SonDoc
2007Closing the RingQuinlan
2007Liyarn NgarnNarrator[33]Documentary
2008PlayerColinShort film
2009The Age of StupidThe ArchivistDocumentary
2009Solomon KaneWilliam Crowthorn
2009Waving at TrainsDouglasShort film
2010Clash of the TitansSpyros
2010InceptionMaurice FischerNominated – Central Ohio Film Critics' Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
2010The TownFergus "Fergie" ColmNational Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
2011Killing BonoKarl


1975Second City FirstsEpisode: "Thwum"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1976Plays for BritainSoldierEpisode: "The Paradise Run"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1978Last of the Summer WineMan in CafeEpisode: "A Merry Heatwave"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1978Going StraightThomas Clifford CrowtherEpisode: "Going Going Gone"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1979Afternoon OffGallery Attendant
1979Horse in the HouseUncle Doug6 episodes
1981Play for TodayDanny DugganEpisode: "The Muscle Market"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1981Coronation StreetDetective Sergeant CrossEpisode 2061
1981Crown CourtEpisode: "The Merry Widow: Part 1"
1982–1993MinderJack "Oily" Wragg
Eric "Logie" Lawson
2 episodes
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1984MitchJack FrostEpisode: "Squealer"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1985Victoria Wood As Seen on TVBarryEpisode 1.6
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1985Summer SeasonEpisode: "A Crack in the Ice"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1989Tales of Sherwood ForestEric7 episodes
1990ScreenplayPaula's FatherEpisode: "Needle"
1990Debut on TwoTony
2 episodes
1990BoonSteve McLaughlinEpisode: "Undercover"
1990ZorroEpisode: "The Marked Man"
1990–1993CasualtyRalph Peters
2 episodes
1992El C.I.D.VinceEpisode 3.1: "Making Amends"
1992Between the LinesChief Superintendent JamesonEpisode: "Out of the Game"
1992Shakespeare: The Animated TalesQuinceEpisode: "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Credited as Peter Postlethwaite
1993LovejoyTerence SullivanEpisode: "Goose Bumps"
1994Pie in the SkyKevin TaskerEpisode 1.8: "A Matter of Taste"
1994Martin ChuzzlewitMontague Tigg/Tigg Montague5 episodes
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2000The SinsLen GreenMiniseries
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2003Shattered City: The Halifax ExplosionCharles BurchellMiniseries
2008Criminal JusticeHoochMiniseries


  1. ^ Weber, Bruce (3 January 2011). "Pete Postlethwaite, British Actor, Dies at 64". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Pete Postlethwaite Biography". 
  3. ^ "Pete Postlethwaite". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK). 3 January 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Marriages and Births England and Wales, 1837–2006". Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Review: Autobiography Pete Postlethwaite: A Spectacle of Dust". Irish Independent. 1 December 2012. 
  6. ^ McLellan, Dennis (4 January 2011). "Pete Postlethwaite dies at 64; actor was nominated for an Oscar for 'In the Name of the Father'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Australia's soul singer". The Guardian. 20 June 2008. 
  8. ^ Wheatley, Jane (27 October 2008). "The Coronation of Pete Postlethwaite". The Times (London). 
  9. ^ "ENOUGH ROPE with Andrew Denton – episode 12: Pete Postlethwaite". Australia: ABC. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Wheatley, Jane (27 October 2008). "The Coronation of Pete Postlethwaite". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  11. ^ Pratchett, Terry and Kidby, Paul. The Art of Discworld, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 2004; ISBN 0-575-07511-2
  12. ^ "Pete's progress". The Observer (London). 1 October 2000. Retrieved 25 April 2007. 
  13. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (25 April 2007). "The poet in Pete's soul". Telegraph Co UK (London, UK). Retrieved 25 April 2007. 
  14. ^ "Reactions: Spanner Films". Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  15. ^ "Press: Stupid on Channel 4 News". 16 February 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  16. ^ Jackson, Ben (18 February 2009). "The Age of Stupid already happening in real life". The Sun (London, UK). Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Jim Broadbent takes Pete Postlethwaite part in drama",; accessed 24 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Sean Martella's Testicular Cancer Update Blog: Cancer Survivors Part 1 – Pete Postlethwaite". 17 January 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  20. ^ "Pete's progress". The Observer (London). 1 October 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  21. ^ "Pete Postlethwaite". London: Telegraph. 16 February 1945. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  22. ^ Smith, Aidan (8 March 2009). "Pete Postlethwaite interview: For the love of Pete". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  23. ^ Walker, Michael (3 January 2011). "Country Standard: Pete Postlethwaite – 1997 PPB Taxicab Angel". Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  24. ^ Weaver, Matthew (3 January 2011). "Actor Pete Postlethwaite dies". The Guardian (London). 
  25. ^ Siegle, Lucy (16 March 2009). "The night Miliband said 'I'm with Stupid, but...'". Guardian (UK). Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  26. ^ "The measure of a man is what's left when the fame falls away: Pete Postlethwaite's moving memoir". Daily Mail (London). 
  27. ^ Lesnik, Tim (17 February 2011). "Daniel Day Lewis Pays Tribute to Pete Postlethwaite". Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  28. ^ "Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite dies aged 64". BBC. 3 January 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  29. ^ Actor Pete Postlethwaite dies age 64 The Independent (London) 3 January 2011
  30. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (1 January 2011). "Pete Postlethwaite: A face we won't forget". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  31. ^ "Pete Postlethwaite's book serialised in the Shropshire Star". Shropshire Star. June 20, 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  32. ^ Postlethwaite, Pete; Richardson, Andy (June 1, 2011). A Spectacle of Dust: The Autobiography (Hardcover ed.). Orion Publishing. ISBN 0297864939. 
  33. ^

External links[edit]