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Alien and Lord of the Rings Actor Ian Holm Dies Aged 88

The actor began his career in the Royal Shakespeare Company and became renowned for his role as Bilbo Baggins on radio and screen

Beloved British actor Sir Ian Holm, known for his roles in Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi film Alien and in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died aged 88.

An official statement from Holm's agent read: “It is with great sadness 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.”

Holm was an accomplished actor of the stage and screen, and secured multiple awards and nominations over the course of his long and successful career. In 1967 he won a Tony for his performance as Lenny in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, and was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting turn in the 1981 classic Chariots of Fire.

Holm's roles were immensely varied; he was equally as comfortable in traditional period dramas as he was wacky sci-fi movies. As the malfunctioning Ash in the 1975 film Alien, he set a gold standard for creepy filmic androids that has yet to be topped. After playing Frodo Baggins for the 1968 BBC radio production of The Hobbit, Peter Jackson enlisted him to play the role of Bilbo for the big screen adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and later The Hobbit. Holm also appeared in films as diverse as Time Bandits, The Fifth Element, and as a voice actor in Pixar's Ratatouille.

A legend of stage and screen whose presence will be sorely missed.

 

The Best Ian Holm Roles

Ash, Alien (1979)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

Holm was unforgettable as the enigmatic android, Ash, in 1979's horror masterpiece Alien, where he co-starred alongside fellow British thespian and screen legend John Hurt.

 

Sam Mussabini, Chariots of Fire (1981)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

Holm was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as dedicated coach Sam Mussabini in the acclaimed film about athletes competing at the 1924 Olympics. The film won Best Picture at the 54th Academy Awards.

 

Mitchell Stephens, The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video

Holm plays a tortured lawyer in Atom Egoyan's quiet drama about a bus crash that kills numerous children in a small Canadian town. It is an utterly haunting performance of immense depth and repressed emotion – perhaps the best of his entire career.

 

Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

Like Ian McKellen as Gandalf, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Holm as ring-finder Bilbo Baggins. He gets most to do in the first chapter, The Fellowship of the Ring, in a role to which he brought great warmth, though expertly tinged with layers of darkness.

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