Sick Chirpse, like the entire world, was saddened to hear of British actor Pete Postlethwaite’s death yesterday at the age of 64 following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was once described as ‘the best actor in the world’ by Steven Spielberg. Now, despite the fact everybody probably knows who Pete Postlethwaite was, how many of you actually know his movies? If you had to play that party game where you have to describe a celebrity through their achievements I reckon you might have a hard time with ol’ Pete. Perennially the supporting actor (so much so he was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1993’s In The Name of The Father), I now take you through my five favourite Pete Postlethwaite movies, in much the same way I did with Jean Claude Van Damme’s movies following his recent brush with death. This one took me a lot longer to think of though, as I hadn’t even seen a lot of his movies.
The Usual Suspects (1994) – Probably one of the favourite movies of anyone who grew up in the 1990’s, and the Keyser Soze reveal at the end of the movie is also probably many’s favourite scene in movies. It tells the story of five criminals who come together in a random police line up who all end up working together with the majority of them being killed at a coke deal on a boat that is subsequently destroyed. Chazz Palminteri (remember him?) has to figure it all out. Pete Postlethwaite (in his trademark supporting actor role – his face didn’t even make it onto the poster, although his name did) plays Soze’s slippery scumbag lawyer Kobayashi (but is that even his real name?) who isn’t really in the movie that much but plays a key part, setting up and blackmailing the ‘usual suspects’ a bunch of times and picking up Keyser Soze in a car at the end.
When Saturday Comes (1996) – This was a fairly shitty movie but I remember enjoying it when I was about ten watching it on a rented video (remember THOSE?) with my dad, probably mainly because it was a football movie and I had never seen anything like it before (this was a whole decade before GOAL: THE MOVIE came out). It tells the story of hard drinking factory worker Sean Bean who is spotted playing for his local pub team by Ken Burns (Postlethwaite turning up in his typical supporting actor role, and again receiving no facial credit on the poster), the manager of local non-league team Hallam. Bean eventually gets to play for Sheffield United and score in the FA Cup Semi Final, but not without the predictable screw ups and rousing speeches from Postlethwaite.
Romeo + Juliet (1996) – This hip reworking of the Bard’s most famous play set on Verona Beach in Californa in the modern day was so cool that it almost got an eleven year old timw_brap into Shakespeare. It was also one of the first twelves I got into at the cinema. Early roles for Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes meant that Postlethwaite wasn’t even mentioned on the poster of this movie, but neither were fellow perennial supporting men John Leguizamo and Brian Dennehy, which perhaps made him feel better about this. Pete plays another crucial rule as Father (not Friar, notice the hip update) Laurence who acts as an advisor to the two young lovers and even marries them – although he also ultimately causes the end of their union by coming up with the plan (and failing to execute it correctly) that leads to both of their deaths.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – Probably the least enjoyable of the Jurassic Park trilogy, Postlethwaite had a pretty small, but again vital, role in this movie as big game hunter Roland Tembo who is hired by InGen to capture a T-Rex (surely it’s just a tyrannosaurus?) and is surprisingly successful, managing to catch it live with a tranquilliser gun. Then he went home and wasn’t heard from again in the movie. As with all previously featured movies here, Postlethwaite’s likeness was not featured on the movie poster but then nobody else was either, as the poster gave way to the real stars of the movie – the dinosaurs.
Inception (2010) – Postlethwaite and DiCaprio team up again (think anyone else wrote that when describing this movie?) in one of the biggest movies of last year. Postlethwaite again doesn’t get a credit on the poster of this movie, but then he isn’t really in it and only really showed up in a cameo, playing the deceased father of rich oil company heir Cillian Murphy who appears to him in a critical dream scene. Still, I was struggling to find any movies that I remember actually seeing Postlethwaite in so had to include it, and it is a pretty sick movie.
So what have we learnt from this? Postlethwaite was rarely given the main part in any movie and generally didn’t even make the poster, which is the complete opposite to Jean Claude Van Damme’s movies where he was usually given top billing and a poster that pretty much only featured a huge picture of his face. Despite this though, who will be remembered as the better actor? I’ll leave you to make your mind up on that one but it isn’t that difficult a question.