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Pete's obviously not the villain he appears to be in his films ... so why is he strangling me?
[1 Edition]
Sunday Herald - Glasgow (UK)
Author: Billen, Andrew
Date: Jun 20, 1999
Start Page: 6
Abstract (Document Summary)

So why is it, despite these heavy jolts to the system, [Pete Postlethwaite] regards his decision to act rather than teach as the most significant watershed of his life? Since he is no materialist and no glamour-seeker, the explanation can only be he attaches unusual importance to his trade itself. We must remember that, when he entered it, political drama and "community" theatre were much more fashionable than today. On his original drama course at teacher's training college in Twickenham, the syllabus was built on Pinter, Beckett, O'Neill, Artaud and NF Simpson. At the Liverpool Everyman, a decade later, the works of Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell were varied by productions of Brecht set on building sites and teeming with relevance. For Postlethwaite, whose abandoned schoolboy vocation had been the priesthood, acting was a moral and political choice. His politics can still be traced in his movies: In the Name of the Father, about the Guildford Four; Brassed Off, about South Yorkshire's dying colliery towns; and Among Giants and its subplot about uninsured casual labour. This afternoon, his enthusiasm is for Buddhism. Looking at my notebook, I discover he has written for me the name of the author of one of his favourite books, The Autobiography of a Yogi: Paramahansa Yogananda - the right-on thespian remains in the wings. He ends sentences with "man!".

Shakespeare didn't write a line unmeaningfully." So when he directed and starred in Macbeth at Bristol two years back (a film is planned), he ran it uncut, convinced every speech was fathomable. He was inspired by his insight into Macbeth's line to the servant who comes with the news that Birnam Wood is on the move: "Thou com'st to use thy tongue; thy story quickly". Fear had rendered the messenger tongue-tied, and the reason for his terror, Postlethwaite concluded, was that he had just seen Macbeth strangle his loyal retainer Seyton for bringing him the previous instalment of bad news, that Lady Macbeth was dead. Now I am Seyton to Postlethwaite's Thane. His hands are gripping my throat so tightly that I think the last, beautifully spoken, words I shall hear are: "It is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/ Signifying nothing."

I perhaps exaggerate my discomfort at Postlethwaite's hands - he is a gentle man - but there is no doubting the force with which he wrings significance out of the parts he plays and the lines he speaks. And not only on set. "I love life, man. I love it. I love it to death," he says, which is the sort of luvvy glib I normally find impossible to take. Delivered with Postlethwaite's juggernaut sincerity, however, take it I must.

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