Sir Ian Holm, the British actor with a wide and varied resume working with directors like Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Terry Gilliam, and David Cronenberg, has died of complications from Parkinson’s disease. Holm’s agent confirmed the news in a statement to The Guardian, writing, “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer…Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.” He was 88.
A member of London’s prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, Holm began his film and TV career in the late 1950s, appearing in filmed productions of Shakespeare and Chekhov plays for British TV. He was primarily a stage actor until the mid-’70s, when an intense bout of stage fright caused him to turn to film work instead. From there, his role as android science officer Ash in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) launched a second act for Holm, who appeared in supporting roles in a number of sci-fi and fantasy films, including Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985), Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991) and eXistenZ (1999), and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element (1997), alongside his dramatic work.
In this realm, he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as running coach Sam Mussabini in Chariots Of Fire (1981), although he lost to John Gielgud in Arthur. He did win a BAFTA for that role, however, and was feted by several critics’ groups, for his leading role in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter in 1997. In recent years, Holm was perhaps best known as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings movies, playing the role in The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001) and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003), as well as the older Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014). The latter would mark his last onscreen role.