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 years old.
Holm died peacefully in a hospital Friday morning surrounded by his family and caregiver, his agent Alex Irwin said in a statement. His illness was linked to Parkinson’s.
“His sparkling joke always went with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes,” 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 in the trilogies “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” as Bilbo Baggins.
He won a British Academy Film Award and received an Oscar nomination for supporting actor for portraying pioneering athletics coach Sam Mussabini in the 1982 film Chariots of Fire.
His other film roles have included Father Cornelius in “The Fifth Element,” Android Ash in “Alien,” a smooth-speaking lawyer in “The Sweet Herwhile,” Napoleon Bonaparte in “Time Bandits,” and the 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 as Lenny in Harold Pinter’s 1967 play “The Homecoming”.
He was a longtime member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, though a bout of debilitating stage fright that appeared during a 1976 production of “The Iceman Cometh” kept him off the stage for many years.
“I think it happens to actors pretty often,” Holm told the Associated Press in 1998. “You’re losing your nerve. You may think it’s a crazy way of making a living or whatever. I was lucky enough to be in the other media.” I could have frozen in front of a camera, and I would have had to be a chimney sweep or something. “
He returned to his live performance and won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in 1998 for his performance in the title role of “King Lear” at the National Theater.
Holm was knighted in 1998 for services to the drama.
Mia Farrow said he was “among the giants of the theater”.
“We met while we were working at the RSC, where terror seized him during the performance of Iceman Cometh and he left the stage – for 14 years,” she tweeted. “He’s worked in films and on television – all brilliantly.”
Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, described Holm as “one of the greats of the RSC”.
“Ian was completely original. Totally unique, “said Doran.” He had a boiling coolness, a compressed volcanic sense of ferocity, danger, a pressure cooker actor, a rare and great talent. It’s a great mind gone. “
Holm was married four times and had five children.