British actor Pete Postlethwaite died Sunday at the age of 64 from cancer.
Mr. Postlethwaite was the sort of actor whose name you might not know, but you'd recognize him in a heartbeat. Perhaps best known for his appearance in The Usual Suspects, he appeared alongside Kevin Spacey again in the comedy The Shipping News as a hard-nosed reporter who bore a grudge. In one of my favorite fantasy films, Dragonheart, he provided comical relief as Brother Gilbert, a wandering friar and would-be minstrel who became troubled when faced with the moral conflict of doing evil for a greater good. He also had roles in movies such as Amistad and Inception, and he earned an Oscar nomination for In the Name of the Father. In these roles and others, he garnered a reputation for his devious, diverse, and nuanced characters.
If you still don't recognize Mr. Postlethwaite's face, you might have heard his voice: "Truth is I thought it mattered, I thought that music mattered. But does it bollocks! Not compared to how people matter." It was he who spoke these opening lines to the song "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba.
Mr. Postlethwaite was born in 1946 in Cheshire, England; became a drama teacher, then a full-time stage actor; broke into television in the late 1980s and Hollywood in the early 1990s; and had two children. He will be missed.