Ian Holm, Star of ‘Alien’ and ‘Lord of the Rings,’ Dies at 88
Ash from Alien. Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Father Cornelius from The Fifth Element. Mr. Kurtzmann from Brazil. They’re just a few of the famous roles played by British actor Ian Holm, who sadly passed away in London this week. Holm’s agent told The Guardian “it is with great sadness 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. Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.” The cause of death was Parkinson-related illness.
Born in Essex in 1931 Holm was raised by a psychiatrist father and a mother who worked as a nurse. He took an interest in theater, and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Holm won a Tony Award for Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming before stage fright (which struck him during a performance of The Iceman Cometh in the mid-1970s) pushed him to explore a film career.
Within three years he landed one of his most famous roles, as the android Ash in Ridley Scott’s Alien. As the science officer of the doomed Nostromo, Holm created one of the most memorable robots in film history. His final scene, where his shattered remains explain his destructive actions, is rightfully legendary. Holm’s Ash became the perfect stand-in for cold unfeeling corporations everywhere.
Two years after that, Holm won a BAFTA and was nominated for an Academy Award for Chariots of Fire, the sports drama about runners in the 1924 Olympics. Holm plays Sam Mussabini, coach to one of the athletes in the story.
That same year, Holm played Frodo Baggins in a radio play version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Nearly two decades later, Holm played the older Bilbo Baggins in the first and third Lord of the Rings movies from Peter Jackson. He later reprised the role in The Hobbit prequels.
Some fans might not even realize Holm also voiced the role of the domineering chef Skinner from Pixar’s Ratatouille, who runs Gusteau's restaurant and makes life miserable for the bumbling Linguini and his rodent assistant:
Holm leaves behind these great movies and many others, the product of a career that lasted more than 40 years. He is survived by his wife and five children.
Gallery — The Best Director Cameos in History: