Peter Postlethwaite has died

Peter Postlethwaite

Peter Postlethwaite

Catholic actor Peter Postlethwaite died yesterday at the age of 64,  following a lengthy illness. He won an Oscar nomination for his performance as Guiseppe Conlon in the 1993 film In The Name Of The Father, about the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four for an IRA bomb attack. In 2004 he was made an OBE for  his contribution to the arts.

Postlethwaite was born in Warrington, Cheshire, the fourth and youngest child of William and Mary Postlethwaite. As a child he served as an altar boy and considered the priesthood for a time. Instead he trained to be a drama teacher at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill (Now St Mary's University College). Joan Reilly, a former  senior lecturer at St Mary's, and Pete's personal tutor,  said: "Peter was a very gifted actor and totally unpretentious. At college he had a good North Country accent but could change that in an instant. We always kept in touch. He would always invite me to see him when he was playing in London."  In 1998 he was made an Honorary Fellow of St Mary's.

After St Mary's and a brief spell teaching drama at Loreto College, Manchester, Peter trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He began his career at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, where his colleagues included Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Antony Sher and Julie Walters. He went on to work for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Stratford on Avon.  After bit parts on television his first success came with the film Distant Voices, Still Lives in 1988. His Academy Award nomination for his role in In the Name of the Father came in 1993. Many more successful films followed, among them: The Usual Suspects  Amistad, Brassed Off, The Shipping News, The Constant Gardener, Inception and as Friar Lawrence in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet.

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

Peter won great critical acclaim for his King Lear at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool and at the Young Vic, London in 2008.  He appears 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 really impressed by the film.

Always concerned about Justice and Peace issues,  Peter took part in the march against the war on Iraq and supported the Make Poverty History campaign.  At the premiere of The Age of Stupid,  he promised the UK Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband he would return his OBE if the government gave the go-ahead for new coal-fired units at Kingsnorth power station.

Peter Postlethwaite is survived by his wife Jacqueline, a son William and daughter Lily.

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