Pete Postlethwaite


Peter William Postlethwaite, OBE (February 7, 1946 – January 2, 2011) was an English character actor. In a career spanning 45 years, he appeared in over 100 TV and film productions. He trained as a teacher and taught drama before training as an actor. He made his film debut in Ridley Scott‘s feature debut The Deullists (1977), with Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel. Another notable early film was A Private Function (1984), with Michael Palin and Maggie Smith.

After minor television appearances, including in The Professionals, his first major success arose through the British autobiographical film Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988). He had a transatlantic breakthrough when he portrayed David in David Fincher‘s Alien 3 (1992), with Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dance, Brian Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Ralph Brown, Paul McGann, Danny Webb, Lance Henriksen, Holt McCallany.

His international reputation was further solidified when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Jim Sheridan‘s In the Name of the Father (1993), with Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson. Following this role, he portrayed the mysterious lawyer Mr Kobayashi in The Usual Suspects (1995) with Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri, and Kevin Spacey; and went on to appear in a wide variety of films.

Other films in the early 1990s include Franco Zeffirelli’s adaptation of Hamlet (1990), with Mel Gibson, Glenn Close, Alan Bates, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Dillane, and Nathaniel Parker; a TV movie adaptation of Treasure Island (1990), with Charlton Heston, Christian Bale, Oliver Reed, Christopher Lee, and Julian Glover; Waterland (1992), with Jeremy Irons, Sinéad Cusack, Ethan Hawke, and John Heard; Michael Mann‘s adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans (1992), with Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Jodhi May, Russell Means, Wes Studi, Eric Schweig, and Steven Waddington.

Films in the mid to late 90s include When Saturday Comes (1996), with Sean Bean and Emily Lloyd; Henry Selick’s adaptation of James and the Giant Peach (1996), with Paul Terry, Joanna Lumley, and Miriam Margolyes, along with the voices of Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, David Thewlis, and Margolyes; DragonHeart (1996), with Dennis Quaid, Thewlis, Dina Meyer, and the voice of Sean Connery; Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (1996), with Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Paul Sorvino, and Diane Venora; Brassed Off (1996), with Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan McGregor; The Serpent’s Kiss (1997), with McGregor, Greta Scacchi, and Richard E. Grant; and Among Giants with Rachel Griffiths.

Director Steven Spielberg called him “the best actor in the world” after working with him on The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), with Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Arliss Howard, Vince Vaughn, Vanessa Lee Chester, Peter Stormare, and Richard Attenborough. He would also appear in Spielberg’s Amistad (1997), with Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Nigel Hawthorne, David Paymer, Stellan Skarsgård, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Films in the early 2000s include When the Sky Falls (2000), with Joan Allen, Patrick Bergin, and Liam Cunningham; Rat (2000), with Imelda Staunton; Cowboy Up (2001), with Kiefer Sutherland, Marcus Thomas, Molly Ringwald, and Daryl Hannah; Lasse Hallström’s The Shipping News (2001), with Spacey, Moore, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans, Jason Behr, and Gordon Pinsent; Edoardo Ponti’s Between Strangers (2002), with Klaus Maria Brandauer, Gérard Depardieu, Sophia Loren, Malcolm McDowell, Mira Sorvino, and Deborah Kara Unger; The Limit (2004), with Lauren Bacall, Claire Forlani, and Henry Czerny; Dark Water (2005), with Jennifer Connelly, Tim Roth, John C. Reilly, Perla Haney-Jardine, Dougray Scott, and Ariel Gade; The Constant Gardener (2005), with Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Hubert Koundé, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, and Donald Sumpter; Red Mercury (2005), with Stockard Channing, Juliet Stevenson, Ron Silver, and David Bradley; and Æon Flux (2005), with Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo, and Frances McDormand.

Films in the mid to late 2000s include The Omen (2006), with Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Mia Farrow, and Michael Gambon; Richard Attenborough’s Closing the Ring (2007), with Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Mischa Barton, Stephen Amell, Neve Campbell, and Brenda Fricker; Clash of the Titans (2010), with Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelsen, Alexa Davalos, Fiennes, and Liam Neeson; and Christopher Nolan‘s Inception (2010), with DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine.

He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2004 New Year Honours list. Less than one month after his death, he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in The Town (2010), with Ben Affleck (who also directed), Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, and Titus Welliver. His final film Killing Bono (2011), with Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan, Krysten Ritter, Peter Serafinowicz, Stanley Townsend, Justine Waddell, Martin McCann; was released posthumously.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • The Racer (1975) – directed by Anthony Garner – short
  • The Duellists (1977) – directed by Ridley Scott
  • Doris and Doreen (1978) – directed by Stephen Frears – TV movie
  • Afternoon Off (1979) – directed by Stephen Frears – TV movie
  • Strike: The Birth of Solidarity (1981) – directed by Leslie Woodhead – TV movie
  • Fords on Water (1983) – directed by Barry Bliss
  • A Private Function (1984) – directed by Malcolm Mowbray
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (1985) – directed by Terry Hands & Michael A. Simpson – TV movie
  • Watching (1986) – directed by Jeremy Ancock – TV movie
  • Coast to Coast (1987) – directed by Sandy Johnson
  • Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) – directed by Terence Davies
  • Tunbledown (1988) – directed by Richard Eyre
  • To Kill a Priest (1988) – directed by Agnieszka Holland
  • The Dressmaker (1988) – directed by Jim O’Brien
  • Number 27 (1988) – directed by Tristram Powell – TV movie
  • Treasure Island (1990) – directed by Fraser Clarke Heston – TV movie
  • Hamlet (1990) – directed by Franco Zeffirelli
  • A Child from the South (1991) – directed by Sergio Rezende – TV movie
  • They Never Slept (1991) – directed by Udayan Prasad – TV movie
  • The Grass Arena (1992) – directed by Gillies MicKinnon – TV movie
  • Split Second (1992) – directed by Tony Maylam & Ian Sharp
  • Alien 3 (1992) – directed by David Fincher
  • Waterland (1992) – directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1992) – directed by Michael Mann
  • Anchoress (1993) – directed by Chris Newby
  • In the Name of the Father (1993) – directed by Jim Sheridan
  • Suite 16 (1994) – directed by Dominique Deruddere
  • Sin Bin (1994) – directed by George Case – TV movie
  • Sharpe’s Company (1994) – directed by Tom Clegg – TV movie
  • Sharpe’s Enemy (1994) – directed by Tom Clegg – TV movie
  • The Usual Suspects (1995) – directed by Bryan Singer
  • When Saturday Comes (1996) – directed by Maria Giese
  • James and the Giant Peach (1996)* – directed by Henry Selick
  • DragonHeart (1996) – directed by Rob Cohen
  • Crimetime (1996) – directed by George Sluizer
  • Romeo + Juliet (1996) – directed by Baz Luhrmann
  • Brassed Off (1996) – directed by Mark Herman
  • The Serpent’s Kiss (1997) – directed by Philippe Rousselot
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)* – directed by Steven Spielberg
  • Bastard (1997) – directed by Maciej Dejczer
  • Amistad (1997) – directed by Steven Spielberg
  • Among Giants (1998) – directed by Sam Miller
  • Lost for Words (1999) – directed by Alan J.W. Bell – TV movie
  • Alice in Wonderland (1999) – directed by Nick Willing – TV movie
  • Butterfly Collection (1999) – directed by Jean Stewart
  • Wayward Son (1999) – directed by Randall Harris
  • The Divine Ryans (1999) – directed by Stephen Reynolds
  • Animal Farm (1999) – directed by John Stephenson – TV movie
  • When the Sky Falls (2000) – directed by John Mackenzie
  • Rat (2000) – directed by Steve Barron
  • Cowboy Up (2001) – directed by Xavier Koller
  • The Shipping News (2001) – directed by Lasse Hallström
  • Triggermen (2002) – directed by John Bradshaw
  • Between Strangers (2002) – directed by Edoardo Ponti
  • The Selfish Giant (2003) – directed by Rachel Bevan-Baker – short
  • Strange Bedfellows (2004) – directed by Dean Murphy
  • The Limit (2004) – directed by Lewin Webb – aka Gone Dark
  • Dark Water (2005) – directed by Walter Salles
  • The Constant Gardener (2005) -directed by Fernando Meirelles
  • Red Mercury (2005) – directed by Roy Battersby
  • Æon Flux (2005) – directed by Karyn Kusama
  • Valley of the Heart’s Delight (2006) – directed by Tim Boxwell
  • The Omen (2006) – directed by John Moore
  • Ghost Son (2007) – directed by Lamberto Bava
  • Closing the Ring (2007) – directed by Richard Attenborough
  • Player (2008) – directed by Mary Nighy – short
  • The Age of Stupid (2009) – directed by Franny Armstrong – documentary
  • Solomon Kane (2009) – directed by Michael J. Bassett
  • Waving at Trains (2009) – directed by Sean Crotty – short
  • Clash of the Titans (2010)* – directed by Louis Leterrier
  • Inception (2010)* – directed by Christopher Nolan
  • The Town (2010)* – directed by Ben Affleck
  • Killing Bono (2011) – directed by Nick Hamm – posthumous release