Sad news to report this morning as Oscar-nominated actor Ian Holm has died at the age of 88. His agent tells The Guardian, “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,” adding that his illness was Parkinson’s related. “Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”
For genre fans, Holm is probably best known for his work as the duplicitous android Ash in Alien or as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. But Holm’s filmography spanned a multitude of exciting roles. In 1982 he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Chariots of Fire, played Napoleon three times, was perfectly sinister in Terry Gilliam‘s Brazil, and gave a heartbreaking performance in Atom Egoyan‘s The Sweet Hereafter. He earned over 130 acting credits in a career that spanned seven decades.
Holm was always a welcome secret weapon in movies. He wasn’t the guy who took the lead, but he always made his mark in unexpected ways. He knew how to play calm malevolence, but he could also do bumbling and funny like his turn in The Fifth Element. He was a gift of an actor, and I’m not sure he ever got enough recognition despite having roles in classic films. But you don’t walk out of Alien forgetting about Ash.
In terms of his personal life, I have to include this unexpected detail from The Guardian’s obit: ” In between the two sets of Tolkien adaptations, Holm developed an unexpected reputation as a lothario, after the publication of his autobiography in 2004. Hailed by the Daily Mail as ‘Lord of the Flings”’, he candidly chronicled his serial marriages and extramarital affairs,” so now I have to read this book about how Bilbo Baggins could get it.
Our condolences go out to Mr. Holm’s family, friends, and numerous fans.