Sir Ian Holm, Star of Lord of the Rings and Alien, Dies at 88

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Sir Ian Holm, Star of <i>Lord of the Rings</i> and <i>Alien</i>, Dies at 88

Beloved screen presence Sir Ian Holm, known for his appearances in some of the most popular science fiction and fantasy films of all time, has reportedly passed away at the age of 88 from Parkinson’s-related illness. The actor’s agent relayed the following to the BBC: “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.”

Born Ian Holm Cuthbert, the short-of-stature Holm was active as a performer for more than 60 years. He began his career on stage in the 1950s, battling frequently severe stagefright while winning the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance in The Homecoming as Lenny. He would go on to win numerous other accolades, including the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in King Lear, and the 1981 BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for Chariots of Fire. Holm was also Oscar-nominated for the same role.

He was perhaps most beloved, though, for an array of instantly iconic supporting roles in some of the most popular sci-fi and fantasy films ever made. That includes Ash, the duplicitous doctor revealed as an android in 1979’s Alien; the erratic Father Vito Cornelius in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element; Napolean Bonaparte in Time Bandits; and of course the brave hobbit Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Pixar fans would likewise recognize Holm’s voice as one of the studio’s best villains, Chef Skinner in Ratatouille. He was a versatile, universally respected performer whose characters tended to radiate a good-natured, if flustered sensibility. We can only imagine that tributes from various Hollywood contemporaries will be rolling in throughout the day.

As Holm himself put it, departing his 111th birthday party in The Fellowship of the Ring:

“I regret to announce—this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell. Goodbye.”

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