By now most people will already have heard, but on 2 January 2011 Pete Postlethwaite died. He’s never been one of the big stars, but he was undoubtedly a great actor, with a presence and gravitas that made so many of his roles – even in bad films, and he definitely had those – worth watching. I first noticed him in The Usual Suspects, where he was the improbably named Kobayashi (with an even more improbable accent – which the dimwits at Empire magazine voted the ninth worst movie accent, completely failing to understand what was going on in the movie). Not many people could make the line “I may only castrate your nephew, Mr McManus” work as he did.
After that, he started popping up in a number of films (usually ones I caught a while after they’d been on at the cinema), and the moments he was on screen were usually among the best scenes in those films. He was a great Father Laurence in Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet, showing the kids how to do Shakespeare; and of course he was the heart at the centre of Brassed Off:
I didn’t necessarily go to see a film because of Postlethwaite, but I definitely enjoyed films more if he showed up. I will miss seeing his rough face, his gravelly voice. Pete Postlethwaite, films are poorer for having lost you.