Lord of the Rings and Alien actor Sir Ian Holm dies aged 88

The actor was known for playing Bilbo Baggins, among other roles.

Ian Holm

Sir Ian Holm, star of Lord of the Rings as Bilbo Baggins, Alien and Chariots of Fire, has died at the age of 88.

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His agent confirmed the news in a statement to RadioTimes.com, saying: “It is with great sadness we can confirm that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88. He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer.

“Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”

While the exact cause of death has not been reported, Holm’s agent said his illness was related to Parkinson’s.

When the cast of Lord of the Rings reunited on Zoom earlier this month, he shared his disappointment in not being able to join them.

“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,” he said.

Holm famously played beloved hobbit Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, after previously voicing the character of Frodo Baggins in the BBC radio adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s tales back in 1981.

Ian Holm in Lord of the Rings
Getty

He later reprised his role as Old Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in which Martin Freeman played his younger counterpart.

Holm was also known for his work on stage, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company back in 1960.

Reflecting on the actor’s legacy, his agent’s statement said: “An established star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Harold Pinter’s favourite actor, (he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor as Lenny in The Homecoming).

“Sir Ian was globally recognised for his extraordinarily impressive and varied career which included highlights such as Chariots of Fire (earning him a special award at the Cannes Film Festival, a BAFTA award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), The Fifth Element, Alien, The Sweet Hereafter, Time Bandits, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Madness of King George.

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“His portrayal of  Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogies ensured the magic of his craft could be shared by all generations.

“He was a genius of stage and screen, winning multiple awards and loved by directors, audiences and his colleagues alike. His sparkling wit always accompanied a mischievous twinkle in his eye.”
Holm’s role in Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming earned him the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor.
His acting accolades included the 1981 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his porrayal of Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, which also saw him receive an Oscar nomination.
In 1998, the actor took home the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for the title role in King Lear.