Ian Holm
Ian holm.jpg
Sir Ian Holm
Goodmayes, Essex, England, UK
Birth date
(1931-09-12)September 12, 1931
Death date
June 19, 2020(2020-06-19) (aged 88)
Notable Films
Alien (1979)
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001–2003)

Ian Holm (September 12, 1931 – June 19, 2020) was an English actor known for his stage work and for numerous film roles. These include the hobbit Bilbo Baggins in the first and third films of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the athletics trainer Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, Father Vito Cornelius in The Fifth Element and the android Ash in Ridley Scott's Alien.


Holm was an established star of the Royal Shakespeare Company before making an impact on television and film. In 1965, Holm played Richard III in the BBC serialisation of the Wars of the Roses plays, based on the RSC production of the plays, and gradually made a name for himself with minor roles in films such as Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) and Young Winston (1972). In 1967, he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play, for playing the role of Lenny in The Homecoming by Harold Pinter. In 1977, Holm appeared in the TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth as the Sadducee Zerah, and in the following year played J. M. Barrie in the award-winning BBC TV series The Lost Boys, in which his son Barnaby played the young George Llewelyn Davies.

Ian Holm as Ash

Holm's first film role to have a major impact was that of the treacherous android, Ash, in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). His portrayal of Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire (1981), earned him a special award at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Back home in England, he won a BAFTA award, for Best Supporting Actor, for Chariots. In the 1980s, he had memorable roles in Time Bandits (1981), Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985). He played Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland in the Dennis Potter-scripted fantasy Dreamchild (1985).

In 1989 Holm was nominated for a BAFTA award for the TV series Game, Set, and Match. Based on the novels by Len Deighton this tells the story of an intelligence officer (Holm) who discovers that his own wife is an enemy spy. He continued to perform Shakespeare, and appeared with Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1989) and as Polonius to Mel Gibson's Hamlet (1990). Holm was reunited with Kenneth Branagh in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), playing the father of Branagh's Victor Frankenstein.

Holm raised his profile in 1997 with two prominent roles, as the stressed but gentle priest Vito Cornelius in the The Fifth Element and the tormented plaintiff's lawyer in The Sweet Hereafter. In 2001 he starred in From Hell as the physician Sir William Withey Gull. The same year he appeared as Bilbo Baggins in the blockbuster film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, having previously played Bilbo's nephew Frodo Baggins in a 1981 BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. He reappeared in the trilogy in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), for which he shared a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Holm has been nominated for an Emmy Award twice, for a PBS broadcast of a National Theatre production of King Lear, in 1999; and for a supporting role in the HBO film The Last of the Blonde Bombshells opposite Judi Dench, in 2001. Holm has provided voice-overs for many British TV documentaries and commercials.

Holm is a favorite actor of Terry Gilliam, having appeared in Time Bandits and Brazil. Holm has also appeared in two David Cronenberg films, Naked Lunch (1991) and eXistenZ (1999) and was Harold Pinter's favourite actor, the playwright once stating: "He puts on my shoe, and it fits!" Holm made a stir as Lenny in the first ever performance of Pinter's masterpiece The Homecoming. He has played Napoleon Bonaparte three times. First, in the 1972 television series Napoleon and Love. Next, in a cameo comic rendition, in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits from 1981. He completed the set in 2001 playing the fallen and exiled leader in the fanciful film The Emperor's New Clothes. He was made a CBE in 1990. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1998 for Services to Drama.


Holm died in hospital on 19 June 2020 at the age of 88. He had Parkinson's disease for a number of years.


As an actor

Title Year Role Notes
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 Bilbo Baggins

Part of soundtrack

Title Year Role Notes
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 Performer: "The Road Goes Ever On" Uncredited