The beginning of 2011 comes with the unfortunate news that Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite has passed away at the age of 64. According to reports, he died peacefully in central England after a lengthy battle with cancer.

While well known for his incredible film career — which included movies like "The Usual Suspects," “Inception,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” and others — Postlethwaite was also an avid supporter of the environmental movement.

Most recently, he appeared in the futuristic documentary "The Age of Stupid," which featured the actor as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, watching archival footage from the mid-to-late 2000s and asking, "Why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?"

His work on the documentary so inspired him that he installed a wind turbine in his garden and made other eco-friendly improvements to his home.

Back in March of ’09, Postlethwaite also vowed to give back his OBE (Order of the British Empire) honor should a new coal plant in Kingsnorth in southern England be constructed. That plan was eventually scrapped in October.

Steven Spielberg, who directed Postlewaite in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" and "Amistad," once called him "the best actor in the world." In response, Postlethwaite quipped, "I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was, 'the thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world.' "

Survivors are his wife, Jacqui, his son, Will, and daughter, Lily.

Check out a trailer for "Age of Stupid" below:

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Pete Postlethwaite passes away at 64
Celebrated actor and environmentalist died peacefully following a lengthy battle with cancer.