In honor of the late, great Pete Postlethwaite, whose birthday it is today, I’d like to highlight one particularly brilliant short scene in The Town (2010, dir. Ben Affleck). I’ve been a fan of Postlethwaite for years; his death in January 2011 was devastating to me because he was always such an underrated actor in any kind of production.
He could sell roles no matter what they entailed. Foremost among them are In the Name of the Father (a deservedly Oscar-nominated role as DDL’s dad), The Usual Suspects, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. I remember when I first watched The Last of the Mohicans and I realized, “Hey! Isn’t that soldier guy Pete Postlethwaite? Awesome!” Then there was the moment when I was watching Inception in IMAX (on my birthday, summer 2010) and I thought, “Oh my God, that’s Pete Postlethwaite playing Cillian Murphy’s dying father.” I had no idea he was dying from cancer in real life, but all the same, it’s moments like those that stick in my mind.
What a blistering, venemous speech Postlethwaite hurls at Affleck in The Town. That’s the mark of a talented actor: screaming and shouting is not required in order to convey complete viciousness. I am so grateful for the film legacy that Pete Postlethwaite graced us with, even though it is more brief than it should be.