Rest in Peace, Peter Postlethwaite

Rest in Peace, Peter Postlethwaite

While looking up the schedule for this year’s new films (as I tend to do every January), I was sad to learn that Peter Postlethwaite, an actor I’ve admired over the years, passed away just last week on January 2, 2011. Apparently he’d been battling testicular cancer since 1990 and died of the disease after over twenty years of fighting.

Fans will remember the English actor from his long line of starring and supporting roles throughout the last three-plus decades. Most recently, those who saw the popular blockbuster movie Inception will recall him in his role as Maurice Fischer. He had two other roles in large movies in 2010, including playing Spyros in Clash of the Titans (perhaps the best played role in the film) and Fergie Colm in the creepy thriller, The Town.

But me, I’ll always remember him as one of those versatile, amazing character actors I love so much, up there with my other favorites—Vincent D’Onofrio, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, and Gary Oldman. He’s one of those guys that everyone wants in their movie (obviously!); he could bring a depth to any character; any minimal or two-dimensional role could come alive when played by Postlethwaite. Remember the priest in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet? (I realize many people hated that movie; I was quite in love with it upon its release—and continue to be with Luhrmann’s films.) The role itself wasn’t a phenomenal one; consult any text of Shakespeare’s to remember that. With Mr. Postlethwaite in the role, however, it easily rivaled the roles of the other legendary characters created by the Bard (perhaps even the epic Mercutio himself).

Postlethwaite also received some critical acclaim in his life—including a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for his role in In the Name of the Father—but for the most part he wasn’t well lauded around the globe. In fact, I’m sure outside of England, if mentioned in conversation, many people wouldn’t know who you were talking about. My own husband couldn’t recall him by name when I mourned him upon learning of his death; of course, when I reminded him of a few of his roles, he too was saddened, remembering his favorite films of Postlethwaite’s (such as The Shipping News and The Constant Gardener).

Mr. Postlethwaite, actors of your caliber are hard to come by in these modern times, and you will be deeply missed. Thank you for your contribution to the arts throughout your life; you will also be well remembered.