Postlethwaite died peacefully Sunday in a hospital in Shropshire, England, where he had been receiving treatment for cancer, according to longtime friend Andrew Richardson.
The actor, who Steven Spielberg once described as "the best actor in the world," was also known for his roles in The Usual Suspects, Alien 3, Amistad, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Shipping News, The Constant Gardener, and Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. He most recently appeared in Inception and The Town.
Postlethwaite, who received an OBE in 2004, was also well known for his role as Sergeant Obadiah in the British television series Sharpe.
He is survived by his wife, Jacqui, his son Will and daughter Lily.