Veteran film and stage actor Ian Holm, probably best known for his role as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings trilogy as well as the amoral android science officer Ash in Ridley Scott’s Alien, has died at the age of 88.
“It is with great sadness we can confirm that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88,” Holm’s agent said in a statement (via BBC). “He died peacefully in hospital with his family and carer.”
A classically trained actor with a background in the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-on-Avon, Holm spent his early career on stage, mostly with the RSC and a European tour with Laurence Olivier performing in Titus Andronicus. Holm made his film debut in 1968 in The Bofors Gun, a role which would lead to his first BAFTA Award for Supporting Actor.
Throughout his career, Holm moved effortlessly between starring and supporting roles, always recognizable on screen while slipping completely into a given part. In addition to Scott and Jackson, Holm worked with directors such as Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Brazil), Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Frankenstein), David Cronenberg (Naked Lunch, eXistenZ), and Luc Besson (The Fifth Element). Movies were not the only venue where Holm shined as an actor, earning Emmy awards in 1999 (for a television reprisal of King Lear) and 2001 (playing opposite Judi Dench in The Last of The Blonde Bombshells for HBO). While TV and film took up most of his later career, Holm still made his way on to the stage periodically, winning an Olivier award in 1997 for Best Actor for his title role performance in King Lear. Additionally, Holm also did a large amount of voice acting and narration for documentaries. One of his last voice acting roles was on a live-action version of Animal Farm, which later aired on TNT.
Despite a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, which he had been suffering from for a number of years, Holm was still very active even as recently as January of this year, when he appeared in person to accept the Newport Beach Film Festival’s Icon Award in London. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 for his contributions to the performing arts. Holm is survived by his fourth wife, three daughters, and two sons.