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Ian Holm, ‘Alien’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ Actor, Dead at 88

British star portrayed wide range of characters in theater, TV and film

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Althea Legaspi Jun 19, 2020

British actor Ian Holm, who starred as Bilbo Baggins in the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, has died at age 88. Photo: Nick Cunard/Shutterstock

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British actor Ian Holm, who portrayed a wide range of characters in theater, TV and film including Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died. A longtime Shakespearean actor, his versatility and passion for his craft was imbued in roles varying from King Lear to an android in Ridley Scott’s Alien. Holm was 88.

His agent confirmed the star had died in London on Friday morning. He was in the hospital for an illness related to Parkinson’s. “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,” the agent said in a statement via The Guardian. “Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”

Holm, who had been nominated for six British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), won in the Supporting Actor category for his role as coach Sam Mussabini in 1981’s Chariots of Fire. His performance also earned him an Oscar nomination.

“We are very sorry to hear of the death of Ian Holm,” BAFTA tweeted, sharing a photo from the night he garnered the award.

“RIP Ian Holm, a genius actor who brought considerable presence to parts funny, heartbreaking & terrifying,” writer/director Edgar Wright tweeted in tribute. “Thanks Bilbo, Napoleon (twice), Sweet HereafterBig 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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Born in Essex in southeast England in 1931, Holm became interested in acting in his youth, and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Holm launched his career in the theater before moving into television and film acting.

In addition to his lauded performances in Chariots of Fire and as hobbit Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, other memorable characters he portrayed in blockbuster films include Ash in 1979’s Alien, Father Vito Cornelius in 1997’s The Fifth Element and Professor Fitz in 2004’s Aviator.

Beyond his acting accomplishments, he was named Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1989 and he was knighted for services to drama in 1998.

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