One of the UK's most consistently excellent actors, the understated Pete Postlethwaite has sadly passed, leaving behind him a career of unforgettable performances.

The star of The Usual Suspects, Brassed Off and most recently Inception, he managed to combine smaller British films with major Hollywood blockbusters. To remember the man himself, we've assembled some lesser known facts right here:

  1. When an agent once asked him to change his unmistakable surname, Postlethwaite fired him immediately.
  2. While certainly not afraid of doing the odd big movie, he turned down some plum roles. He said no to Gangs of New York as he was being asked to work for "less than union rates" and, more understandably, Gone In 60 Seconds.
  3. His Brassed Off speech can be heard at the start of Tubthumping by Chumbawumba.
  4. Ever the professional, he was the only actor in Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet to speak in iambic pentameter, as Shakespeare intended.
  5. After starring in The Lost World, Steven Spielberg called him "the best actor in the world" but the self-deprecating actor joked: "I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was, 'The thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world.'"
  6. He originally planned to be a priest and worked as a teacher before finally becoming an actor.
  7. Back in the seventies, he dated Julie Walters and the two lived together in Soho.

Finally, here's a look at arguably his most memorable scene. In the 1996 drama Brassed Off, he delivered this rousing speech at the end. So rousing in fact that the scene inspired John Prescott to launch a regeneration programme for coalfield communities after seeing it.