Ian Holm, a versatile British actor whose long career included roles in Chariots of Fire and The Lord of the Rings, has died. He was 88.
Holm died peacefully in a hospital on Friday morning, surrounded by his family and carer, his agent Alex Irwin said in a statement. His illness was caused by Parkinson’s.
“His sparkling joke was always accompanied by a mischievous wink,” said Irwin. “Charming, friendly and incredibly talented, we will miss him very much.”
Holm has appeared in numerous films, both large and small, from costume dramas to fantasy epics. A generation of moviegoers knows him as Bilbo Baggins in the trilogies “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”.
He won a British Academy Film Award and an Oscar nomination for supporting actor for portraying groundbreaking running coach Sam Mussabini in the hit 1982 film “Chariots of Fire.”
His other film roles have included Father Cornelius in The Fifth Element, Android Ash in Alien, a skilled lawyer in The Sweet Hereafter, Napoleon Bonaparte in Time Bandits, writer Lewis Carroll in Dreamchild and a royal doctor in “The Madness of King George”.
He was also a charismatic stage actor who won a Tony Award for Best Actor in 1967 as Lenny in Harold Pinter’s play “The Homecoming”.
He was a long-time member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, but a crippling stage fright that hit him in 1976 during a production of “The Iceman Cometh” kept him off the stage for many years.
“I think that happens to actors quite a lot,” Holm told the Associated Press in 1998. “They lose their nerve. You may think it’s a crazy way of making a living or whatever. Fortunately, I was employed in the other media. I could have frozen in front of the camera and I would have had to be a chimney sweep or something. “
He eventually returned to live performances and won a 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of “King Lear” at the National Theater.
Holm was knighted in 1998 for his services to the theater.
Mia Farrow said he was “among the giants of the theater”.
“We met while working at the RSC, where he was caught in the middle of the performance of Iceman Cometh and he left the stage for 14 years,” she tweeted. “He’s worked in films and on television – infallibly brilliant.”
Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, called Holm “one of the RSC greats”
“Ian was completely original. Completely an isolated case, ”said Doran. “He had a sizzling coolness, a compressed volcanic sense of savagery, of danger, a pressure cooker performer, a rare and great talent. It’s a great ghost gone. “
Holm was married four times and had five children.