Ian Holm, Who Played Bilbo Baggins In Lord Of The Rings, Dies Aged 88

Sir Ian Holm, the versatile actor who played Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings films, has died aged 88.

Holm’s agent confirmed to The Guardian, saying: “It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm, CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88”. They said, “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,” adding that his illness was Parkinson’s related. “Charming, kind, and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”

Stage and film actor passed away in a hospital in London due to an illness related to Parkinson’s disease.

His wife, Sophie de Stempel, documented Holm’s final days in a series of artful pastel portraits.

Earlier this month, he expressed his sadness that he wasn’t able to take part in a virtual reunion for the films, saying, “I am sorry to not see you in person, I miss you all and hope your adventures have taken you to many places. I am in lockdown in my hobbit home or holm.”

Ian Holm, Who Played Bilbo Baggins In Lord Of The Rings, Dies Aged 88

Holm, a Bafta-winning actor, was also nominated for an Oscar for his role as Maverick Athletics coach Sam Mussabini in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire

It may have seemed that Holm was bound to take on supporting roles for the rest of his life, especially since he quit the theater because of his severe stage fright. However, after playing the role of Bilbo Baggins in the famous The Lord of the Rings films, Holm managed to attract a considerable following.

Ian Holm was born in Essex in 1931 to Scottish parents named James Harvey Cuthbert and Jean Wilson (née Holm). His father was superintendent of the West Ham Corporation psychiatric hospital. 

The talented actor later described the childhood he experienced there as “a pretty idyllic existence”

After finding himself in acting and falling in love with it, he went from Rada in London to the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford. He then became part of the Royal Shakespeare Company on its foundation in 1960.

Ian Holm, Who Played Bilbo Baggins In Lord Of The Rings, Dies Aged 88

Holm was known for his role in J.R.R Tolkien’s beloved trilogy, appearing as Bilbo Baggins in both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King. And his Oscar nomination for his role as athletics coach Sam Mussabini in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire was a big event in his career. 

Holm became an important figure at the RSC, winning an Evening Standard best actor award for Henry V in 1965, as a part of the seminal Wars of the Roses cycle put together by Peter Hall and John Barton. 

This great actor also gained attention for his work with Pinter, playing Lenny in the premiere production of The Homecoming, then winning a Tony award after its transfer to Broadway. 

It’s hard to believe that, with all of these achievements, Holm could’ve suffered from severe stage fright, which he described as “a sort of breakdown.” But he did, and he was eventually able to get through it.

Holm had a history of iconic performances, including his role as the malfunctioning android, with others including that of Dr. Willis in The Madness of King George and Father Cornelius in Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic The Fifth Element.

The actor received a lot of compliments for his exceptional performance, director Edgar Wright even described him as a ‘genius’. 

He wrote:

“RIP Ian Holm, a genius actor who brought considerable presence to parts funny, heartbreaking & terrifying. Thanks for Bilbo, Napoleon (twice), Sweet Hereafter, Big Night, Brazil and, of course, the iconic Ash. I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”

Ian Holm will continue to live through the great roles he left for us, and in the memories of all his family, friends and fans.

Rest in peace.