Today brings us the unfortunate news that veteran actor Pete Postlethwaite has passed away at the age of 64 after a long battle with cancer. The actor died peacefully at a hospital in Shropshire, England, sometime yesterday.

Postlethwaite was diagnosed with testicular cancer way back in 1990 and had been living with the illness for two decades (he had one of his testicles removed at one point). He was being treated at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital but died from his illness yesterday.

Postlethwaite was born on February 16th, 1946 in Cheshire, England. After starring on stage and in small parts in many TV shows (notably The Professionals), he moved onto feature films where he became an established, well-known and well-loved face.

Postlethwaite gained awards recognition when he received an Oscar nomination for his role in the 1993 drama In the Name of the Father, co-starring Daniel Day-Lewis. He played the mysterious Kobayashi in Bryan Singer’s classic The Usual Suspects; Holabird in Amistad; Roland Tembo in the blockbuster The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Spielberg once called him “probably the best actor in the world today”); Fergus Colm in Ben Affleck’s The Town; and Cillian Murphy’s father in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, to name just a few of his notable roles.

The role I will personally always remember Postlethwaite for, however, was as the strange “Old Man” in the live-action/animated hybrid movie James and the Giant Peach – the character who presented the titular James with the “crocodile tongues” that lead to the eponymous giant peach in his back garden. As a kid I used to marvel at that scene, as Postlethwaite described how long the crocodile tongues took to make and what exactly they were made of.

Pete Postlethwaite in ‘James and the Giant Peach’

In recent years, Postlethwaite became politically active in relation to climate change policies and issues. He starred in the 2009 drama-documentary/animation hybrid The Age of Stupid, set in a devastated version of Earth in 2055, that asks the question “Why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?” The actor was made an OBE (Office of the Order of the British Empire) in 2004 and once threatened to give the award back if the government went ahead with plans to install new coal-fired units at a power station. Needless to say, he was a passionate individual.

Postlethwaite was always one of those actors that I enjoyed seeing pop up here, there and everywhere. He was a brilliant character actor who could jump from dramas (In the Name of the Father) to comedies (Brassed Off) to big-budget blockbusters (Inception, Clash of the Titans) with ease. He was a fine actor, whom will always be remembered.

Screen Rant would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Postlethwaite.

R.I.P. Pete Postlethwaite: February 16th, 1946 – January 2nd, 2011.

Source: The Guardian and LIFE (header image)