January 03, 2011 at 11:14 AM EST

Image Credit: Simon James/Getty ImagesOscar-nominated British actor Pete Postlethwaite, most recently seen on-screen last year in Inception and The Town, has died at the age of 64, according to a family spokesperson. The actor’s longtime friend Andrew Richardson says Postlethwaite died peacefully on Sunday in a hospital in Shropshire, central England, after a lengthy illness. He had been receiving treatment for cancer.

Postlethwaite was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the 1993 film In the Name of the Father. His film credits also include The Usual Suspects, Alien 3, Amistad, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Shipping News, The Constant Gardener, and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Steven Spielberg, director of Jurassic Park and Amistad, once called Postlethwaite “the best actor in the world.” The actor replied later, showing his keen wit, saying, “I’m sure what Spielberg actually said was, ‘the thing about Pete is that he thinks he’s the best actor in the world.’ “

Postlethwaite is survived by his wife, Jacqui, son, Will, and daughter, Lily.

More on the life and career of Pete Postlethwaite from EW:

Pete Postlethwaite: An appreciation by Owen Gleiberman

Pete Postlethwaite: Costars remember their colleague and friend

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