Actor Sir Ian Holm dies aged 88

19 June 2020, 13:00

Ian Holm arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square in 2012
Ian Holm arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square in 2012. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Actor Sir Ian Holm, best known for his role as Bilbo Baggins in Lord of the Rings, has died aged 88.

The actor also starred in Chariots of Fire and Alien.

A statement from his agent Alex Irwin said: "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. His illness was Parkinson's related.

"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, The Fifth Element, Alien, The Sweet Hereafter, Time Bandits, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Madness of King George.

"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.

Ian Holm attends the "Tolkien" UK premiere at The Curzon Mayfair
Ian Holm attends the "Tolkien" UK premiere at The Curzon Mayfair. Picture: Getty

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

Sir Ian won a Tony Award for best featured actor as Lenny in Pinter's play The Homecoming, and his role as Sam Mussabini in Chariots Of Fire earned him a special award at the Cannes Film Festival, a Bafta award and an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

His first credited screen performance was in 1957 in an ITV Play Of The Week and he won the first Bafta he was nominated for - for The Bofors Gun, which was released in 1968.

He found a new audience in the 1990s in the role of Pod in the TV adaptation of The Borrowers, in which he starred opposite Dame Penelope Wilton and Rebecca Callard.

He was awarded a knighthood in the 1998 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to drama.

The National Theatre paid tribute to Sir Ian in a post on their official Twitter page.

It said: "We're very sad to hear that Ian Holm has passed away.

"He was an extraordinary actor and we have wonderful memories of his performance at the National Theatre as King Lear (1997)."

Bafta tweeted: "We are very sorry to hear of the death of Ian Holm. Nominated for 6 BAFTAs in his wide-ranging and successful career across TV and film, he is pictured here winning the Supporting Actor award for his role in Chariots Of Fire in 1981".

Paying tribute to Sir Ian, comedian Robert Webb said on Twitter: "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."