Ian Holm death: Lord of the Rings and Alien star dies aged 88

Theatre-trained actor received an Oscar nomination for ‘Chariots of Fire’

The Fellowship of the Ring: Goodbye Dear Bilbo

Veteran English actor Ian Holm has died, aged 88.

“It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88,” his agent confirmed.

Holm – who appeared in the Lord of the Rings and Alien franchises – was suffering from an illness that was related to Parkinson’s disease.

“Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely,” a statement from his agent said, adding: “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer.”

Holm became a Bafta winner and Oscar nominee following his role in 1981 film Chariots of Fire, in which he played athletics coach Sam Mussabini.

It was his performance as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) that introduced Holm to a whole new generation.

He reprised the role in The Return of the King (2003), as well as the first and third instalments of Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy nine years later.

Holm started out with a career in theatre, which he eventually quit in 1976 after experiencing stage fright.

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’

It was during a performance in 1976’s The Iceman Cometh that the actor had “a sort of breakdown” on stage, which left what he once described as “a scar on my memory that will never go away”.

Before that, he had been a prominent figure at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and won an Evening Standard trophy for his performance in Henry V (1965).

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After turning his back on theatre, Holm had roles in Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Young Winston (1972) and Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979).

Following his appearance in Scott’s seminal science-fiction horror film, in which he played the villainous android Ash, he scored roles in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985), Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element and Atom Egoyan film The Sweet Hereafter (both 1997).

He worked with filmmaker David Cronenberg twice (on the films Naked Lunch in 1991, and eXistenZ in 1999), and earned an additional Bafta nomination for 1994 film The Madness of King George, in which he played King George III’s physician.

He voiced Chef Skinner in Pixar’s 2007 animated film Ratatouille, and appeared in The Day After Tomorrow, Garden State and The Aviator (all 2004).

In 1991, Holm married actor Penelope Wilton. They divorced in 2001.

Holm is survived by his wife, the artist Sophie de Stempel, and his five children, Jessica, Sarah-Jane, Melissa, Barnaby and Harry.

Mia Farrow was among his fellow actors paying tribute, tweeting: “Awful news that Ian Holm has died. He was among the giants of the theatre. We met while working at the RSC where, mid-performance of Iceman Cometh, terror seized him and he left the stage – for 14 years. He worked in films and TV – unfailingly brilliant.”

Inside No 9 star Reece Shearsmith wrote: “RIP Sir Ian Holm. What an actor. A lifetime of incredible performances.”

Stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard added: “The great Ian Holm is dead. Wonderful actor and it’s so sad to see him go. Farewell, you did great work Sir.”

Comedian and Peep Show star Robert Webb said: “I was sorry to hear this – what a splendid actor. He even managed to make FR Leavis sympathetic in a BBC 2 Screen Two with, I think, Rufus Sewell as an annoying student. He could be very funny too.”

Director Edgar Wright wrote: “RIP Ian Holm, a genius actor who brought considerable presence to parts funny, heart-breaking & 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.’”

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