Lord of the Rings and Alien actor Ian Holm dies at the age of 88

(Image credit: New Line)

Ian Holm, best known for playing Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died at the age of 88.

The Oscar-nominated actor had a versatile career – having played Hobbits, androids, and kings – and died peacefully in hospital, according to his agent. “It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88,” they told The Guardian. “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,” adding that Holm's illness was Parkinson’s related. “Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”

Holm had earlier this month been unable to take part in a virtual reunion of the Lord of the Rings cast, saying in a statement: “I am sorry to not see you in person, I miss you all and hope your adventures have taken you to many places, I am in lockdown in my hobbit home, or holm.”

The actor's first tangling with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien was in 1981, when he voiced Frodo Baggins in a BBC radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. A few years before that, Holm won acclaim for his portrayal of the antagonistic android Ash in Ridley's Scott's science-fiction horror masterpiece Alien, released in 1979. 

Holm went on to play Sam Mussabini in 1981's Chariots of Fire, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and winning him that year's BAFTA for the same award. He also had roles in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits and Brazil, plus a key part in the cult movie The Fifth Element. 

The 2000s brought renewed fame thanks to the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, plus an Annie-winning voice acting role in Ratatouille as Chef Skinner, the diminutive owner of Auguste Gusteau's restaurant. His last role was returning as Bilbo in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.