Peaky Blinders actor Matthew Postlethwaite on his hometown of Whitehaven and love of Kendal mint cake
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:36 10 April 2017
Mairead Mahon meets the actor who is helping to spread some Lake District sweetness to the stars of Hollywood
It can’t be long now before we start seeing Kendal mint cake popping up in Hollywood movies especially if Peaky Blinders actor, Matthew Postlethwaite, has anything to do with it.
That’s because he is making it his mission to convert the great and good by giving a bar of the delicacy to any Hollywood royalty he runs across.
‘It could be a risky policy - after all it is an acquired taste, but luckily they seem to like it,’ says Matthew, recently spotted at Elton John’s Oscar awards night party.
Matthew, who was born in Whitehaven, divides his time between home and Los Angeles, where his first film, ‘The White King’, starring Jonathan Pryce and Lancashire’s Agyness Deyn, has recently been released.
Matthew’s first career had nothing to do with acting – he was close to becoming a sandwich tycoon. ‘I went to Huddersfield to study business but before my degree was finished, I began a firm making wraps,’ he says. ‘It really took off. I employed 20 staff but my dream was to act and so I joined an acting workshop in Manchester. I was spotted fairly quickly by an agent.’
So, had he any acting experience? ‘Well, discounting school plays, the answer is no but I did have a famous acting relative – the great Pete Postlethwaite. I never actually met him but, maybe it’s in the blood. I like to think so.’
His dad, Ian, an engineer, and mum, Susan, have never trod the boards but they are creative people. ‘We were encouraged to express our creativity at home,’ he says.
The ‘we’ refers to his identical twin, Jeffrey, who is also an actor and the pair have often played twins – in The White King, and most famously in Peaky Blinders.
‘We both have individual careers, but obviously we do have the advantage when twins are required – we’re the real deal.
‘We are competitive though, and even though Jeffrey is my elder by minutes, I refuse to display any deference towards his age!’ says Matthew.
He was happy to display deference towards Sam Neil though, when he found himself working alongside the star on Peaky Blinders.
‘It is easy to get a bit star struck when you actually meet, let alone work alongside, actors that you’ve been such a fan of. Sam Neil was my absolute favourite in Jurassic Park – I’ve watched that DVD hundreds of times but he and the others couldn’t have been more welcoming or encouraging,’ says Matthew.
Of course, food wins most people over and he had a secret weapon in his armoury – his wraps!
‘A fair amount of Peaky Blinders was filmed in Huddersfield and I made it my business that my wraps were delivered at lunchtime. Talking about various fillings is a great leveller and the guy with the food is always going to be popular,’ he laughs.
He wasn’t so popular with his mother when she saw that all his lovely hair had been shaved off for his part as gang member, Nipper.
‘It’s fair to say that she wasn’t impressed. I have done some modelling, so I accept that when a role or photo shoot requires you to look a certain way, it’s easier to just accept it.
‘Nonetheless, my heart sank at the thought of mum’s reaction when I was told that for my role in The White King, my hair would be dyed bright blonde. Luckily, just as I sat in the chair to have it done, they changed their minds and shaved my head instead. Small mercies, I suppose.’
Matthew is close to his family and one of the things that he misses when he is in LA is his mum’s cooking.
‘She does a mean Sunday lunch, although I like cooking too and am on hand to help or hinder, depending on who you ask! I do love a roast dinner and I can tell you that the lamb in LA just doesn’t taste as good as Cumbrian lamb,’ says Matthew.
When he’s home, Matthew loves to visit the farmers’ markets. ‘I do try not to over indulge in too many goodies when I’m in America but when I’m home, I can’t resist the food including, unfortunately, the sweet stuff. I have even brought Callum Blue (who starred in The Princess Diaries) over to sample Grasmere gingerbread for himself. Like me, he adored it.’
Matthew loves the Lakeland scenery too and keeps a calendar of Lakeland scenes in his LA apartment. ‘They remind me of home and who knows, one day I may paint them. I do paint abstracts in oil and despite my dad always asking if a piece is finished, I do have some examples in a London gallery.’ He isn’t going to have time for much painting though, as there are several acting projects in the pipeline.
‘Luckily, I like learning lines. In LA, there are dozens of people on the beach saying their lines out loud – they drown each other out! I like it best in Cumbria, where I walk the fells and the only ones to hear me practise are the sheep – and they never comment,’ laughs Matthew.