Monday, January 03, 2011

Pete Postlethwaite, R.I.P.

It was a sad start to the new year, hearing that Pete Postlethwaite had died after a long battle with cancer at age 64. He was a brilliant actor who never struck a false note and enlivened everything in which he appeared. Deservedly nominated for an Academy Award as the gentle man pulled into his son’s nightmare in In the Name of the Father. Showing the whelps how the Bard was done in William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Doing a pair of films with Steven Spielberg in 1997 that led the director to call him probably the best actor in the world. And in one of those odd pop culture felicities, immortalized in song with Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping.”

But for me, he will always be the inscrutable lawyer Kobayashi in The Usual Suspects, thanks mainly to his delicious phrasing. To this day I will seize any opportunity to work the phrase “gruesome violation” into conversation, and around Chez K whenever one of us is about to undertake some project the other is wont to say, “Kill away, Mister McManus.”

He had an astonishingly good 2010, appearing in three monster hits: Clash of the Titans, Inception and The Town. The last film offered him his best of the three roles as Fergie, the kingpin of Irish Boston whose flower shop front fooled no one. The actor looked frail but menacing, as if Fergie was hell-bent on channeling his dying breath into fucking his enemies over. Illness didn’t dim Pete Postlethwaite’s intensity one iota. He was a favorite, and he will be sorely missed.