Sir Ian Holm, the highly-esteemed thespian who could easily transform himself into everything from an uppity demonic android to a Hobbit patriarch, died in London today. He was 88.
Sir Ian’s agent gave the sad news in a statement, saying that he went off to the afterworld while surrounded by his family and he died from complications related to Parkinson’s disease, which he battled for many years. via The Guardian:
“It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88,” they said. “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,” adding that his illness was Parkinson’s related. “Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”
Sir Ian’s wife, artist Sophie de Stempel, sketched portraits of him during his finals days and posted them on her Instagram as a tribute to him:
Wikipedia tells me that when Sir Ian was just a youngin, a visit to the dentist put him on the path to becoming the trained ACCCC-TOR!!! that he became. While a visit to the dentist usually leaves me with a sore mouth (and not in a sexy way) and sore eyes from crying over the bill, it left Sir Ian with an in into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He met Shakespearan actor/manager Henry Baynton who trained him for his audition for RADA and he ended up getting a spot in 1949 when he was 18 years old. But he had to hit the pause button on his acting studies when he was called to join the British Army. He eventually graduated from RADA in 1953 and then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford where he started out as a “spear-carrier” in productions. He worked his way up the roles ladder and in the 1960s he played the title roles in Henry V and Richard III. In 1967, he left London for a minute to do Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming on Broadway, which got him a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He later played the role in the movie version of The Homecoming in 1973.
Sir Ian, who had a history of depression, took a long break from the stage (an 18-year break) after he got hit with a severe case of stage fright in 1976 during a performance of The Icemeth Cometh.
Sir Ian starred in several movies (Oh! What A Lovely War, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Jesus of Nazareth) before landing his Hollywood breakout by getting cast as Ash the android in Alien. From there, Sir Ian brought his brilliance to nearly every movie ever made (yes, every movie ever made) like Chariots of Fire (which got him an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA win), Greystoke, Brazil, Hamlet (the Mel Gibson one), Naked Lunch, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Madness of King George, The Fifth Element, A Life Less Ordinary, eXistenZ, From Hell, The Sweet Hereafter, Big Night, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Day After Tomorrow, Garden State, The Aviator, Strangers with Candy, and Ratatouille.
And of course, many know Sir Ian Holm best as THEE Bilbo Baggins in the nerd extravaganzas: The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.
Sir Ian was married four times and had five children and six grandchildren.
Rest in peace, Sir Ian.