Pete Postlethwaite, 1945 - 2011
by David Hudson
The Daily Notebook
"Pete Postlethwaite had one of those faces — weathered, folded, kneaded, endlessly interesting — that demanded to be on camera, even as it denied him any possibility of leading man status." Guy Lodge at In Contention: "And yet, in the latter half of his career, Postlethwaite... made a convincing case for the character actor as star. Neither his visage nor his gratifyingly alliterative name threatened more than a career as 'that guy,' but somehow we got to know him better than that." In his final film performance, he gave us a "vivid, knowing character sketch in Ben Affleck's The Town — it's a cruel irony that we last saw Postlethwaite on screen as a man who knew his number was up, but he couldn't have asked for a more affecting exit."
"In recent years Postlethwaite became known as much for his political activism as his acting," writes Matthew Weaver in the Guardian. "He was the front man in the climate change film The Age of Stupid, arriving at the 2009 London premiere on a bicycle. After the film's release he threatened to hand back the OBE he was awarded in 2004 in protest at the government's controversial decision to give the go-ahead for Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent. He also adapted his home to become environmentally responsible, installing a wind turbine and other features. In 2003 he marched against the war in Iraq and was a vocal supporter of the Make Poverty History campaign." Also: Rosanna Greenstreet's quick Q&A with Postlethwaite in January 2009 and the Guardian's last interview (video, 3'35").
Former UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in the Guardian: "I first saw Brassed Off — the tale about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit — in June 1997. The story, loosely based on the Grimethorpe Colliery Band was moving but it was Pete Postlethwaite's speech right at the end that had a deep effect on me. His character, band leader Danny, after spending his life wanting to win the national brass band trophy, symbolically turns it down because he knows it's the only way he can get publicity for the 1000 miners who were sacked from his pit. The line that got me was: 'This government has systematically destroyed an entire industry — our industry. And not just our industry — our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of 'progress'. And for a few lousy bob.
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