Beloved character actor, best known to genre film fans for his turn in Alien and Lord of the Rings, passed away from complications from Parkinsons disease at age 88.
"It is with great sadness we can confirm that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88," his agent said in a statement.
"He died peacefully in hospital with his family and carer," he added.
Holm was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Olympic running coach Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire. He also brought an understated menace to his role as the android Ash in the original Alien film. However, he is most famous for his role as the elderly Bilbo Baggins in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. As the haunted Bilbo Baggins, Holm brought both melancholy and malevolence to the role of a hobbit struggling under the spell of the One Ring. He said: ‘I get a lot of fan mail addressed to Bilbo and sometimes Sir Bilbo – it’s hardly ever addressed to Ian Holm, in fact. ‘My business manager drafts the replies, and then I pop into the office and sign them ‘Bilbo’ but, of course, it hasn’t changed my life. Nothing could possibly change my life.’
Holm was classically trained and earned early acclaim as a Shakespearian actor before his theater career was cut short due to stage fright. He recalled in 1998: ‘I got into my first preview, which I just managed to get through. Then in the second preview, on the following night, I just walked off the stage and into the dressing room and said, “I’m not going back. I cannot go back.” And they had to put the understudy on. My doctor said, “The Iceman goeth.” He then transferred to film, earning praise as a character actor before finally returning to the stage.
Comedian Eddie Izzard remembered Sir Ian as "a wonderful actor", adding: "It's so sad to see him go."
Director Edgar Wright also paid tribute, calling him "a genius actor who brought considerable presence to parts funny, heartbreaking and terrifying".
Peep Show star Robert Webb was among many others to express respect for "a splendid actor" who "could be very funny too."