Ian Holm, Star of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Alien,’ Dies at 88

The Shakespearean actor appeared as Bilbo Baggins in both “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies

ian holm
Ian Holm in 2000 (Getty Images)

Ian Holm, the Oscar-nominated British actor best known for playing Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies, died Friday 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,” the actor’s rep said in a statement. “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer. His illness was Parkinson’s related.”

In addition to his work in the J.R.R. Tolkien-related films, Holm earned an Oscar nomination for playing Olympic running trainer Sam Mussabini in 1981’s “Chariots of Fire.” He also played science officer Ash in 1979’s “Alien,” Father Vito Cornelius in 1997’s “The Fifth Element” and voiced Chef Skinner in 2007’s “Ratatouille.”

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Holm got his start in theater, earning acclaim for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1967, he earned a Tony Award for his supporting role in Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming.”

He soon transitioned into TV and film. Following his breakout role as the duplicitous Ash in “Alien,” he worked in a variety of projects and genres. He returned to his Shakespearean roots for a starring role in a PBS broadcast of “King Lear” that earned him an Emmy nomination in 1999. He earned another Emmy nom in 2001 for the HBO movie “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells” with Judi Dench.

Other credits include “Greystoke – The Legend of Tarzan, King of the Apes” (1984), “Brazil” (1985), “The Sweet Hereafter” (1997), “The Aviator” (2004) and “Garden State” (2004).