Postlethwaite, Pete 1945(?)–

views updated Jun 08 2018

POSTLETHWAITE, Pete 1945(?)–

(Peter Postlethwaite)


Surname is pronounced "poss–ul–thwait"; full name, Peter William Postlethwaite; born February 7, 1945 (some sources cite 1946), in Warrington, England; son of Bill Postlethwaite; married Jacqueline Morrish (a film technician); children: William, Lily. Education: Graduated from Bristol Old Vic Drama School, England.

Addresses: Agent—IFA Talent Agency, 8730 Sunset Blvd., Suite 490, Los Angeles, CA 90069; Cunningham/Escott/Dipene & Associates, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 140, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

Career: Actor. Appeared in broadcasts encouraging people to vote. Worked as a teacher and a sheet metal worker.

Awards, Honors: Academy Award nomination, best supporting actor, 1994, for In the Name of the Father; Television Award nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, best actor, 1995, for Martin Chuzzlewit; National Board of Review Award (with others), best ensemble performance, 1995, for The Usual Suspects; Television Award nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, best actor, 2000, for Lost for Words; Television Award nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, best actor, 2001, for The Sins; named a member the Order of the British Empire, c. 2004.


Film Appearances:

Ecco, The Racer, 1975.

(As Peter Postlethwaite) Player in Everyman Theatre Company, Occupy!, 1976.

(As Peter Postlethwaite) Orderly shaving General Treillard, The Duellists, Paramount, 1977.

(As Peter Postlethwaite) Winston's boss, Fords on Water, 1983.

Douglas J. Nuttal, A Private Function, Island Alive, 1985.

Becket, Number 27, 1988.

Father, Distant Voices, Still Lives, British Film Institute/Avenue Entertainment, 1988.

Jack, The Dressmaker, Euro American Films, 1988.

Joseph, To Kill a Priest (also known as Le complot, Popieluszko, and Zabic ksiedza), Columbia, 1989.

Panter, They Never Slept, 1990.

Player king, Hamlet, Warner Bros., 1990.

The Dipper, The Grass Arena, 1991.

Captain Beams, The Last of the Mohicans, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1992.

David, Alien 3, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1992.

Henry Crick, Waterland, Fine Line, 1992.

Paulsen, Split Second, InterStar Releasing, 1992.

Giuseppe Conlon, In the Name of the Father, Universal, 1993.

Mitch, Sin Bin, 1994.

William Carpenter, Anchoress, International Film Circuit/Upstate Films, 1994.

Ken Jackson, When Saturday Comes, 1995.

Kobayashi, The Usual Suspects (also known as Die Ueblichen Verdaechtigen), Gramercy Pictures, 1995.

Danny, Brassed Off, Miramax, 1996.

Father Laurence, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (also known as Romeo and Juliet), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1996.

Gilbert of Glockenspur, Dragonheart, Universal, 1996.

Glover, Suite 16, A–Pix Entertainment, 1996.

Ken Jackson, When Saturday Comes, 1996.

Old man, James and the Giant Peach, Buena Vista, 1996.

Sidney, Crimetime, Trimark Pictures, 1996.

Holabird (prosecutor), Amistad, DreamWorks, 1997.

Roland Tembo, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (also known as The Lost World), Universal, 1997.

Sincai, Bandyta (also known as Bastard and Brute), 1997.

Thomas Smithers, The Serpent's Kiss (also known as Le baiser du serpent and Der Schlangenkuss), Lusomundo, 1997.

Raymond (Ray), Among Giants, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1998.

Uncle Reg Ryan, The Divine Ryans, 1998.

Ben Alexander, Wayward Son, Avenue Pictures, 1999.

Martin Shaughnessy, When the Sky Falls, Trimark Video, 2000.

Hubert Flynn, Rat, Universal Focus, 2001.

Reid Braxton, Cowboy Up (also known as Ring of Fire), Destination Films, 2001.

Tert Card, The Shipping News, Miramax, 2001.

Ben Cutler, Triggermen, First Look Pictures Releasing, 2002.

John, Between Strangers (also known as Coeurs inconnus and Cuori estranei), First Look Home Entertainment, 2002.

Gale Carmody, The Limit (also known as Gone Dark), Screen Media Ventures, 2003.

Russell McKenzie, Strange Bedfellows, Instinct Entertainment, 2004.

Dark Water, Buena Vista, 2004.

Television Appearances; Series:

Paula's father, Needle, beginning 1990.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Montague Tigg and Tigg Montague, Martin Chuzzlewit, BBC, 1994, also broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, c. 1995.

Detective inspector John McKeown, Butterfly Collectors, Granada Television and HBO Signature, 1999.

Len Green, The Sins, BBC and BBC America, 2000.

Charles Burchell (prosecuting attorney), Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion, CBC, 2003.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Uncle Doug, Horse in the House, 1978.

Major at rehabilitation center, Tumbledown, 1989.

George Merry, Treasure Island (also known as Devil's Treasure), 1990.

Harry, A Child from the South, 1991.

Carpenter, Alice in Wonderland, NBC, 1999.

Mr. Jones and voice of Benjamin, Animal Farm, TNT, 1999.

Television Appearances; Specials:

"Doris and Doreen," By Alan Bennett—Six Plays (also known as Six Plays by Alan Bennett: Doris and Doreen), London Weekend Television, 1978.

"Afternoon Off," By Alan Bennett—Six Plays (also known as Six Plays by Alan Bennett: Afternoon Off), London Weekend Television, 1979.

Voice of Quince, A Midsummer Night's Dream, HBO, 1992.

Ragueneau, Cyrano de Bergerac, Bravo, 1994.

(In archive footage) Himself, First Annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 Summer Blockbuster Review, 1997.

Deric Longden, Lost for Words, Yorkshire Television and PBS, 1999.

Clem Hardicroft, Victoria Wood with All the Trimmings, BBC, 2000.

(In archive footage) Chief superintendent Jameson, Total Cops, 2003.

(In archive footage) Himself, Making It at Holby, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 52nd Annual Golden Globe Awards, 1994.

The 66th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1994.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Thomas Clifford Crowther, "Going, Going, Gone," Going Straight, BBC, 1978.

Detective sergeant Cross, Coronation Street, Granada Television, 1981.

(As Peter Postlethwaite) Jack, "Back in Good Old England," Minder, Thames Television, 1982.

Barry, Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV, BBC–2, 1985.

Ralph Peters, "Close to Home," Casualty, BBC, 1990.

Steve McLaughlin, "Undercover," Boon, Central Television, 1990.

"The Marked Man," Zorro, 1990.

Chief superintendent Jameson, "Out of the Game," Between the Lines, BBC, 1992.

Hank, "The Good Life," Casualty, BBC, 1993.

Logie, "The Roof of All Evil," Minder, Thames Television, 1993.

Terence Sullivan, "Goose Bumps," Lovejoy, BBC, 1993.

Kevin Tasker, "A Matter of Taste," Pie in the Sky, BBC, 1994.

Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill, "Sharpe's Company," Sharpe (also known as Sharpe II), Central Independent Television, 1994, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1995.

Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill, "Sharpe's Enemy," Sharpe (also known as Sharpe II), Central Independent Television, 1994, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1995.

Himself, TFI Friday, 1997.

Himself, The Fat, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2003.

Stage Appearances:

Antonio, The Duchess of Malfi, Round House Theatre, London, 1981.

Langer, Favourite Nights, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London, 1981.

Malcolm Thomas, Having a Ball! (also known as Private Practices), Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, 1981.

Cornwall, King Lear, Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre, The Pit, London, 1983.

Grumio, The Taming of the Shrew, Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre, 1983.

Walt, The Body, Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre, The Pit, 1983.

Ragueneau, Cyrano de Bergerac, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Barbican Theatre, 1983, then George Gershwin Theatre, New York City, 1984–1985.

Brodin, Red Noses, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Barbican Theatre, 1985.

Duke of Exeter, Henry V, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Barbican Theatre, 1985.

Lord Hastings, Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Barbican Theatre, 1985.

Roughean, The Fair Maid of the West, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Mermaid Theatre, London, 1987.

Thomas Mowbray, Richard II, Phoenix Theatre, London, 1988.

Yang Sun, The Good Person of Sichuan, Olivier Theatre, London, 1989.

Ray Say, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, National Theatre Company, Cottesloe Theatre, London, 1992, then Alwych Theatre, London, 1992.

The Homecoming, Manchester, England, 2002.

Appeared as Banquo and Macduff in Macbeth, and as Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, both Royal Shakespeare Company. Appeared in productions of theOld Vic Theatre Company, Bristol, England, the Everyman Theatre Company, Liverpool, England, and the Royal Exchange Theatre Company, Manchester, England.

Major Tours:

Title role, Scaramouche Jones (solo show), Australian, British, and Canadian cities, beginning 2003.

Stage Work:

Director of Funny Peculiar.



Himself, The Making of "Lost World," 1997.

Himself, Beyond Jurassic Park, Universal Studios Home Video, 2001.



Empire (Great Britain), November, 1996, p. 11; October, 1997, p. 107.

Filmink, June, 1999, pp. 56–57.

Interview, March, 1999, pp. 60–61.

Los Angeles Times, Calendar, May 18, 1997, pp. 8, 69.

Maclean's, May 26, 2003, p. 60.

Madison, April, 1999, pp. 70–72.

Newsday, March 10, 1994.

Times (London), July 14, 1997.

Postlethwaite, Pete

views updated Jun 11 2018


Nationality: British. Born: Lancashire, (some sources say Warrington, Cheshire) 7 February 1945. Education: began drama school at age 24. Family: longtime relationship; one son. Career: Teacher; began acting, 1970; theater acting credits include performances at the Manchester Royal Exchange, the Bristol Old Vic, and the Liverpool Everyman; member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from (?) until 1987; played Paula's father, Needle TV series, 1990; appeared as guest on several television programs. Address: 4 Windmill Street, London W1P 1HF, United Kingdom.

Films as Actor:


The Duellists (Scott) (credited as Peter Postlethwaite)


Doris and Doreen (Six Plays by Alan Bennett: Doris and Doreen) (Frears—for TV)


Afternoon Off (Six Plays by Alan Bennett: Afternoon Off)(Frears—for TV)


Cyrano de Bergerac (Hands, Simpson—for TV) (as Ragueneau); A Private Function (Mowbray) (as Nuttol)


Coast to Coast (Johnson—for TV) (as Kecks McGuinness)


Distant Voices, Still Lives (Davies) (as Father); The Dressmaker (O'Brien) (credited as Peter Postlethwaite) (as Jack);Number 27 (Powell) (as Becket); To Kill a Priest (Complot, Le, Popieluszko, Zabic ksiedza) (Holland) (as Josef)


Tumbledown (Eyre—for TV) (as Major—Rehabilitation Center)


Hamlet (Zeffirelli) (as Player King); They Never Slept (Prasad)(as Panter); Treasure Island (Heston—for TV) (as Peter Postlethwaite) (as George Merry)


A Child From the South (Rezende—for TV) (as Harry); The Grass Arena (MacKinnon)


Split Second (Maylam) (as Paulsen); Waterland (Gyllenhaal)(as Henry Crick); The Last of the Mohicans (Mann) (as Captain Beams); Alien3 (Fincher) (as David)


Anchoress (Newby) (as William Carpenter); In the Name of the Father (Sheridan) (as Giuseppe Conlon)


Martin Chuzzlewit (James) (mini—for TV) (as Montague Tigg/Tigg Montague); Sharpe's Enemy (Clegg—for TV)(as Hakeswill); Sharpe's Company (Clegg—for TV) (as Hakeswill)


Suite 16 (Deruddere) (as Glover); The Usual Suspects (Singer)(as Kobayashi)


Crimetime (Sluizer) (as Sidney); Brassed Off (Herman) (as Danny); William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (Romeo + Juliet) (Luhrmann) (as Father Laurence); Dragonheart(Cohen) (as Gilbert); James and the Giant Peach (Selick)(as Old Man); When Saturday Comes (Giese) (as Ken Jackson)


Bandyta (Bastard, Brute) (Dejczer) (as Sincai); Amistad(Spielberg) (as Holabird); The Lost World: Jurassic Park(Spielberg) (as Roland Tembo); The Serpent's Kiss (LeBaiser du serpent, Der Schlangenkuss) (Rousselot) (as Thomas Smithers)


Lost for Words (Bell—for TV) (as Deric Longden); Among Giants (Miller) (as Ray)


The Divine Ryans (Reynolds) (as Uncle Reg); Animal Farm(Stephenson—for TV) (as voice of Benjamin, Jones); Wayward Son (Harris) (as Ben Alexander); Butterfly Collectors(Stewart) (mini—for TV) (as John McKeown); Alice in Wonderland (Willing—for TV) (as Carpenter)


Rat (Barron); When the Sky Falls (Mackenzie) (as The Com-mandant); Ring of Fire (Koller)



Gerrard, Nicci, "What Do You Call a Man Who Says No to Spielberg? Er, Pete . . . ," in The Observer (London), 20 July 1997.

Morrish, John, "Peter the Great," in The Times (London), 4 October 1997.

Hattenstone, Simon, "Make Mine a Large One," in The Guardian (London), 8 October 1997.

Rampton, James, "Doesn't Do Much, Does He?" The Independent, 22 December 1998.

Duncan, Andrew, "There's No Delight in Doing What I Know I Can Do. Danger Ensures You're Alive," in Radio Times, 17 April 1999.

* * *

Pete Postlethwaite's face offers an irresistible field for similes. At the Bristol Old Vic, where he trained, the Principal told him he had a face "like a stone archway." His craggy features have since been likened to "a bag of spanners" and "a smashed-up wall," and one critic was moved to write of Postlethwaite's cheekbones "boiling out of his head like swollen knuckles." In the film world of perfect teeth, plastic surgery, and flawless complexions, Postlethwaite is the most improbable of movie stars. Yet he's rarely had a day out of work since he took up acting in 1970, his screen presence commands attention, stealing scenes without visible effort, and his range is impressive and still actively extending. He is, in Steven Spielberg's opinion, "probably the best actor in the world today."

Inevitably, given his raw-hewn looks and down-to-earth name and background, Postlethwaite has collected his fair share of working-class roles, several of them among his best. His strong facial structure can readily suggest menace; but also a wistful vulnerability, equally convincing as the harsh domestic tyrant of Terence Davies' DistantVoices, Still Lives and as the dedicated bandmaster, doggedly fighting off terminal cancer, in Brassed Off. In Among Giants he played his first romantic lead (at age 53) with all the wary delight of a man finding love long after he's ceased looking for it; the love scenes between his unemployed Yorkshire Tabourer and Aussie backpacker Rachel Griffiths felt touchingly tentative, neither one quite sure what they were getting into.

For his Oscar-nominated performance as the unjustly jailed Guiseppe Conlon in Jim Sheridan's political drama In the Name of the Father, Postlethwaite drew powerfully on his Lancashire roots, basing the character on his own father, "an extraordinary man . . . simple, unaffected, sweet, straightforward." Achieving the notoriously difficult feat of playing good without seeming sanctimonious or smug, he portrayed Conlon as a man with a quiet, unflinching sense of moral rightness who attains tragic stature in adversity. His long, expressive face conveyed sadness and bewilderment at the injustice inflicted on him, but also an unbreakable, instinctive dignity.

Postlethwaite's range extends far beyond working-class heroes (or villains), taking in light comedy, action movies, horror, noirish thrillers, and Shakespeare. He actively seeks diversity, relishing the challenge. "There's no delight in doing what I know I can do. . . . The danger ensures you remain alive. All these different parts keep me fresh and still loving what I do." As Friar Lawrence in Baz Luhrmann's exhilaratingly revisionist Romeo + Juliet he kept his performance tuned into the film's fizzing Latino-punk rhythms while anchoring it in the bedrock of his solid stage-Shakespeare grounding. For Spielberg's second dinosaur romp, The Lost World, he played the big-game hunter Roland Tembo with clipped upper-class tones and a wry hint of seen-it-all self-mockery.

But perhaps Postlethwaite's most relishably unpredictable performance to date was as Kobayashi, soft-spoken enforcer for the mysterious Keyzer Soze in Bryan Singer's labyrinthine thriller The Usual Suspects. Faced with the task of playing a blatantly non-Japanese lawyer with a Japanese name, Postlethwaite elected to give his character a remote, fastidious spin, an air of Zen-like calm and the faintest hint of an Indian accent, that positioned him midway between the Dalai Lama and an English butler. His multi-layered rendition added further to the enigmas of a film in which nobody and nothing could be taken at face value, and proved conclusively that Pete Postlethwaite's ability to confound audience expectations is as yet far from being exhausted.

—Philip Kemp