British actor Pete Postlethwaite, best known to American audiences for his Oscar-nominated role in 1993's biographical film about Irish Republican Army bombers "In the Name of the Father," died on Sunday at the age of 64.
BBC News reports that Postlethwaite, who also appeared in the 2010 box-office smash "Inception," passed away peacefully in a hospital in Shropshire, England, after a long battle with cancer.
Postlethwaite's 40-year career encompassed both stage and screen, including a stint in the 1980s with the Royal Shakespeare Company after years of working in regional English theater. With the kind of instantly recognizable face crucial for a character actor — sunken, bony cheeks, broad forehead and a bulbous nose — Postlethwaite made his way to the screen in 1988 in the British drama "Distant Voices, Still Lives," one of many rough-edged, working-class roles he would take on over the years.
He was born in Warrington, England, on February 7, 1946, and initially trained to be a teacher, serving as a drama instructor at Loreto College in Manchester before taking a detour into acting.
His breakthrough came playing Daniel Day-Lewis' father in the political drama "In the Name of the Father," which earned him a best-supporting-actor Oscar nomination. He followed that part with other memorable roles in films such as "The Usual Suspects," "Brassed Off" and "Amistad." Postlethwaite also made forays into big-budget Hollywood fare, including "Alien 3," Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet," "Inception," "Clash of the Titans" and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park." It was his work in that dinosaur sequel that led director Steven Spielberg to dub the veteran performer the "best actor in the world."
Postlethwaite returned to the stage in 2008 to star in Shakespeare's "King Lear" at the Everyman Theater in Liverpool, where he had gotten his start nearly 40 years earlier.
He is survived by his wife and two children.