Day 47, No. 47. Roland Tembo

Roland TemboHAIRCUT 100: Day 47, No. 47. Pete Postlethwaite as Roland Tembo in The Lost World: Jurassic Park II, the darkest movie in the original trilogy. Tembo is a jaded big-game hunter sick of running safaris for millionaire dentists. He yearns to match wits with a bull T-Rex, though his kill is ultimately thwarted when the eco-warrior Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) sabotages his sawn-off elephant gun. This post is largely in honour of watching the film with my dinosaur-mad son for the first time recently, rather than an endorsement of blood sports, as well as a mark of respect to a truly great British character actor, now sadly no longer with us.

Postlethwaite turns in a beautiful and textured performance, bringing depth to a hard and cynical man who finally realises he has gone too far after the death of one friend too many. Like Buckingham in Richard III, Tembo arrives at a line even he will not cross, refusing to accompany the T-Rex he has captured back to the US mainland for Ludlow, the desperate and avaricious CEO of InGen. Rowland’s absence therefore leaves the academics Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) to save the day in the third act.

Postlethwaite was nominated for the 1993 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in In the Name of the Father, and received an OBE for his services to British stage and screen in 2004. He was a Labour Party activist, and ardently opposed the invasion of Iraq, also campaigning to raise awareness and combat climate change. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009, Postlethwaite kept working, acting and writing his memoir, A Spectacle of Dust, with Andy Richardson. He passed away in January, 2011. ‘I refuse to be typecast, and I’ll have a go at anything so long as it’s different, challenging, hard work and demands great versatility.’

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