"Usual Suspects" star Pete Postlethwaite dies

LONDON Mon Jan 3, 2011 7:31am EST

1 of 4. British actor Pete Postlethwaite arrives for a movie premiere in London in this March 15, 2009 file photo. Postlethwaite, who was nominated for the best supporting actor Academy Award in 1994 for his performance in 'In the Name of the Father', has died at the age of 64 in a hospital at Shropshire on January 2, 2011 after a lengthy illness, according to local media.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Pete Postlethwaite, the Oscar-nominated British actor, has died, a spokesman said on Monday. He was 64. He died in hospital in Shropshire, western England, on Sunday after suffering from cancer.

"He had been unwell off and on for around two years and not worked as frequently as normal during the past year because of the cancer and its side effects," the spokesman said.

Postlethwaite had been described by director Steven Spielberg as "probably the best actor in the world today." The two worked together on the movies "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" and "Amistad."

He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in "In the Name of the Father," the 1993 film about the wrongful convictions of the so-called Guildford Four for an Irish Republican Army bombing.

Other notable film credits included "Brassed Off," "The Usual Suspects" and "Inception," while on stage he played the lead in "King Lear" in 2008 at Liverpool's Everyman, the northern English theater where he began his career.

Postlethwaite was well known for his political activism, appearing as front man in the climate change film "The Age of Stupid" and arriving at the 2009 London premiere on a bicycle.

Actor Bill Nighy, who performed with Postlethwaite at the Everyman in the 1970s, paid tribute to "a rare and remarkable man. I was honored by his friendship -- he is irreplaceable," Nighy was quoted as saying by the BBC.

One friend, who asked not to be named, paid tribute to "a man of enormous dignity and integrity.

"He was self-deprecating, enormously funny and had little time for fame or celebrity. The biggest love of his life was not acting, it was his family."

Postlethwaite is survived by his wife Jacqui and two children Will, 21, and daughter Lily, 14.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Mike Collett-White; Editing by Louise Ireland and Kate Kelland)

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