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Ian Holm, Shakespearean Actor Who Played Bilbo Baggins, Dies at 88

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From Variety

 
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Ian Holm, Shakespearean Actor Who Played Bilbo Baggins, Dies at 88
 

Ian Holm, the classically trained Shakespearean actor best known to film audiences for his performances in films including the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies, “Chariots of Fire” and “Alien,” has died. He was 88.

A rep for the actor has said Holm died in hospital on Friday morning. The actor had been battling Parkinson’s Disease for a number of years. However, as recently as January, Holm appeared in person to collect the Newport Beach Film Festival’s Icon Award in London.

Holm, who was celebrated for interpretations of most of the Shakespeare canon, including a towering “King Lear,” also excelled onstage in the original production of Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming,” which he also brought to Broadway. He began working in films only midway through his career, debuting with an adaptation of his stage performance in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1968.

In later years, however, he worked increasingly in movies and more selectively onstage, appearing in high-profile films such as “Alien,” “The Fifth Element,” “Lord of the Rings” pics “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Return of the King” and “Hobbit” movies “An Unexpected Journey” and “The Battle of the Five Armies.”

But his finest work was contained in independently made productions like Oscar best picture winner “Chariots of Fire,” which brought him a nomination as best supporting actor in 1982; “The Madness of King George”; “Joe Gould’s Secret”; “Big Night”; and “The Sweet Hereafter.”

He also worked regularly on British television series such as “The Borrowers,” “Bells,” “Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill,” “We the Accused” and “Game Set and Match.”

Holm was remarkably versatile and, despite his short stature, rarely limited in his selection of roles. He was very much an actor’s actor, too chameleon-like to have a strong star impact. In 1998, he received his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to drama.

Holm had been working as an actor for decades when he first achieved mainstream notice for his work as an android in 1979’s “Alien” and as the Olympic trainer Sam Mussabini in 1981’s “Chariots of Fire.”

Over the next decade the roles became larger and more distinctive, including Napoleon in “Time Bandits,” Polonius in Zeffirelli’s “Hamlet” alongside Mel Gibson, Captain Fluellen in Kenneth Branagh’s “Henry V,” as well as turns in “Dreamchild,” “Brazil,” “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes,” “Wetherby,” “Dance With a Stranger” and Woody Allen’s “Another Woman.”

During the ’90s he had meaty starring roles in Steven Soderbergh’s “Kafka” and David Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch” as well as in Nicholas Hytner’s “The Madness of King George,” Branagh’s “Frankenstein” and “The Fifth Element.”

Holm turned in several outstanding performances in top independent movies including Stanley Tucci’s “Big Night” and “Joe Gould’s Secret” and, especially, in Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter,” where his performance as the pained lawyer futilely seeking redress in the wake of a Canadian town’s tragedy was “bottomless with its subtlety,” Roger Ebert said.

He worked for Cronenberg again but was wasted in “eXistenZ.”

The actor, who cut his teeth in the theater, still did stagework occasionally. Holm starred as Astrov in “Uncle Vanya” in 1979 and as King Lear in 1997. The latter brought him an Olivier award as best actor, and he repeated both performances on television, winning an Emmy for “Lear” in 1999. In 1993, he starred in a production of Pinter’s “Moonlight” onstage with wife Penelope Wilton.

He returned to the role of Napoleon in 2001 film “The Emperor’s Clothes.” (He had first played Bonaparte in the 1972 TV series “Napoleon and Me,” then comically in “Time Bandits.”) In a generally negative review of the film, the New York Times said, “In a sly, deadpan performance, Mr. Holm does his best to realize the movie’s gentle comic vision.”

In his 70s Holm continued to show up in high-profile films — none more high profile than the “Lord of the Rings” movies, in which he played Bilbo Baggins. He was a sadistic doctor in the Hughes brothers’ “From Hell,” with Johnny Depp, and played meteorologists in Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic “The Day After Tomorrow” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.”

But he was also one of the starring voices in the stylish animated film noir sci-fier “Renaissance” and the delightful animated feature “Ratatouille.” Holm made some other interesting choices in the 2000s, appearing in the indie comedy “Strangers With Candy”; as an outrageous psychoanalyst in “The Treatment”; and as David Ben Gurion, the first president of Israel, in Elie Chouraqui’s “O Jerusalem.”

He returned to the role of Bilbo Baggins for two “Hobbit” films, “An Unexpected Journey” and “The Battle of the Five Armies.”

Ian Holm Cuthbert was born in Goodmayes, England, and entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1950, leaving in 1953 to do his military service.

The following year he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-on-Avon and made his debut as a spear carrier in “Othello.” Holm made his West End debut in 1956’s “Love Affair” and toured Europe with Laurence Olivier in “Titus Andronicus,” rejoining the RSC in 1957 and breaking out in 1959 with his celebrated Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and as the Fool in “King Lear.” He remained with the RSC until 1967, appearing in starring roles in “The Tempest” (as Ariel), “Richard III,” “Henry V” and “Henry IV, Part 1” and “Part 2.”

In 1965 he appeared to great acclaim as Lenny in the original production of Pinter’s “The Homecoming”; he won a Tony when he repeated the role on Broadway in 1967 and played the role again in Pinter’s 1973 big-screen adaptation.

In 1968 he made his film debut in “The Bofors Gun,” a British film that brought him a BAFTA Award for supporting actor. Thereafter, he appeared more regularly in movies and on television than onstage.

Over the next few years, he had supporting roles in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Fixer,” “Oh! What a Lovely War,” “Nicholas and Alexandra” and as King John in “Robin and Marian.” Other assignments included “Young Winston,” “Juggernaut,” “Shout at the Devil” and, for television, “Les Miserables,” “The Man in the Iron Mask,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Jesus of Nazareth.” For the American miniseries “Holocaust” and “Inside the Third Reich,” he played Heinrich **** and Joseph Goebbels, respectively.

He won a second Emmy in 2001 for his roguish work opposite Judi Dench in HBO telepic “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells.” With wife Wilton he appeared in “The Borrowers” and “The Return of the Borrowers” for Brit TV, and he was one of an all-star cast of voices that contributed to the live-action version of “Animal Farm” that aired on TNT in the U.S.

Holm also did a considerable amount of voiceover and narration work. He narrated the documentaries “Stalin,” “Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen” and “Hiroshima: The Decision to Drop the Bomb”; “The Seas of Zanzibar” and “Skin Deep,” both for the Discovery Channel; and “Holocaust on Trial” for PBS.

Holm was married four times, first to Lynn Mary Shaw. His second wife was film still photographer Sophie Baker. Their marriage ended in 1986. Holm married Wilton in 1991, and divorced in 2001.

He is survived by his fourth wife, artist Sophie de Stempel, whom he married in 2003; three daughters, Jessica, Sarah-Jane, who did some film acting, and Melissa, a casting director; and two sons, Barnaby, who acted as a child, and Harry, a filmmaker who makes music videos.

 

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Excellent actor, he was good in anything he did. The Sweet Hereafter is the first one I thought of, a wonderfully subtle performance. He was also great in a atypical role of a tough New York cop in Night Falls On Manhattan (1997).

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One of his finest moments onscreen was in the 1981 Best Picture winner "Chariots of Fire."

Sir Ian portrayed Sam Mussabini, the coach who takes the British runner Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) under his wing. When Abrahams competes in the 100 meters at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris-- his last chance to  win a medal -- Mussabini remains in his nearby room and listens to the race via the stadium's public address system.  

For his performance, Holm received his only Academy Award nomination -- a Best Supporting Actor nod.

Ian-Holm-as-Sam-Mussabini-in-Chariots-of

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TCM just showed Chariots of Fire the other night. I only saw Holm in a small handful of films, but he was terrific in all of them. RIP.

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Sad to hear about this talented actor's passing.  My wife and I just watched him in CHARIOTS OF FIRE earlier this week.  I'm glad he had the success that his talent deserved.

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Excellent actor, he was good in anything he did. The Sweet Hereafter is the first one I thought of, a wonderfully subtle performance.

Same here.  You are absolutely right.

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He also had a small but effective role in '04's THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.

I didn't see him in many of the movies mentioned as they were movies  that didn't interest me, but of the ones I did see, he was an asset to the cast and the movie as well.

May he rest in a well deserved peace.

Sepiatone

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By the way, I'd nearly forgotten how great he was as the (spoiler alert!) traitorous android in Alien. What a cast that movie had.

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7 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

By the way, I'd nearly forgotten how great he was as the (spoiler alert!) traitorous android in Alien. What a cast that movie had.

You're right about that. For almost 38 years, it was my favorite film in which all the cast members were still alive. Since 2017, we have lost Sir John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton and Sir Ian.

See the source image

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He also made a strong impression in the 1971 film MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS .  Good night, IAN, we won't forget you. 

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Ian Holm was such a fine actor and with a impressive filmography. Amid all the well-known movies, there are some hidden gems. He played Lewis Carrol in Dreamchild (1985) and had a role in Dance with a Stranger (Also 1985). the story of Ruth Ellis (Miranda Richardson), the last woman to be hanged in Britian (1950s). He had a supporting role as a man who loved her but was hopelessly rejected. He spent most the film hanging around her looking obsequious, forlorn, and acting out the lap dog. He did that so well. He did a fine turn as Puck in the 1969 Summer's Night Dream (with Ian Richardson, Helen Mirren, and Diana Rigg). Someone already mentioned The Sweet Hereafter, but that's another one.

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5 hours ago, jakeem said:

One of his finest moments onscreen was in the 1981 Best Picture winner "Chariots of Fire."

Sir Ian portrayed Sam Mussabini, the coach who takes the British runner Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) under his wing. When Abrahams competes in the 100 meters at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris-- his last chance to  win a medal -- Mussabini remains in his nearby room and listens to the race via the stadium's public address system.  

For his performance, Holm received his only Academy Award nomination -- a Best Supporting Actor nod.

Yes, this is unfortunate.  Great actor.  I had suggested in the film festival thread that Chariots of Fire might be a good choice for opening night for the TCM film festival next year, since the movie will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. I noted at the time that he was still living and might be invited (assuming he was in good enough health and willing to dome).  Now that's a moot point.  Ben Cross is still alive. 

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6 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Excellent actor, he was good in anything he did. The Sweet Hereafter is the first one I thought of, a wonderfully subtle performance.

Totally agree, Det. Jim and Yancey.  Also glad Chariots of Fire was on the other night as a kind of farewell performance to TCM fans.

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6 hours ago, yanceycravat said:

Over the next decade the roles became larger and more distinctive, including Napoleon in “Time Bandits,” Polonius in Zeffirelli’s “Hamlet” alongside Mel Gibson,

 

He returned to the role of Napoleon in 2001 film “The Emperor’s Clothes.” (He had first played Bonaparte in the 1972 TV series “Napoleon and Me,” then comically in “Time Bandits.”) In a generally negative review of the film, the New York Times said, “In a sly, deadpan performance, Mr. Holm does his best to realize the movie’s gentle comic vision.”

Oh, darn, I wanted to be the one who remembered The Emperor's NEW Clothes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QXBKIhC3RI

And his Polonius in the Zeferelli/Gibson Hamlet is up there with the best--Perfect casting, like the rest of the film:  

 

 

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5321d097-7a98-4c28-97fe-6e459aabfdca-460

My favourite Ian Holm performance is as Desmond Cussen in the 1985 film, Dance With a Stranger which stars Miranda Richardson.

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He was a fine actor. I know him mostly from his stage performances, including an amazing King Lear at the National Theatre in London (later filmed), for which he won the Olivier Award for Best Actor (1998). He was also excellent in Harold Pinter's Moonlight.

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Interesting that he was in Another Woman, because playing the part of his wife in that one is Gena Rowlands, who happens to have turned 90 today.

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What a great actor he was. He was superb in just about everything he did, from CHARIOTS OF FIRE, the 1971 version of MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, to HAMLET and of course he was chilling as Ash in ALIEN (especially when you learn the truth about his character and his true purpose).

May he RIP. He will be missed.

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On 6/19/2020 at 8:44 AM, yanceycravat said:

From Variety

 
Variety logo
 
Ian Holm, Shakespearean Actor Who Played Bilbo Baggins, Dies at 88
 

Ian Holm, the classically trained Shakespearean actor best known to film audiences for his performances in films including the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies, “Chariots of Fire” and “Alien,” has died. He was 88.

A rep for the actor has said Holm died in hospital on Friday morning. The actor had been battling Parkinson’s Disease for a number of years. However, as recently as January, Holm appeared in person to collect the Newport Beach Film Festival’s Icon Award in London.

Holm, who was celebrated for interpretations of most of the Shakespeare canon, including a towering “King Lear,” also excelled onstage in the original production of Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming,” which he also brought to Broadway. He began working in films only midway through his career, debuting with an adaptation of his stage performance in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1968.

In later years, however, he worked increasingly in movies and more selectively onstage, appearing in high-profile films such as “Alien,” “The Fifth Element,” “Lord of the Rings” pics “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Return of the King” and “Hobbit” movies “An Unexpected Journey” and “The Battle of the Five Armies.”

But his finest work was contained in independently made productions like Oscar best picture winner “Chariots of Fire,” which brought him a nomination as best supporting actor in 1982; “The Madness of King George”; “Joe Gould’s Secret”; “Big Night”; and “The Sweet Hereafter.”

He also worked regularly on British television series such as “The Borrowers,” “Bells,” “Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill,” “We the Accused” and “Game Set and Match.”

Holm was remarkably versatile and, despite his short stature, rarely limited in his selection of roles. He was very much an actor’s actor, too chameleon-like to have a strong star impact. In 1998, he received his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to drama.

Holm had been working as an actor for decades when he first achieved mainstream notice for his work as an android in 1979’s “Alien” and as the Olympic trainer Sam Mussabini in 1981’s “Chariots of Fire.”

Over the next decade the roles became larger and more distinctive, including Napoleon in “Time Bandits,” Polonius in Zeffirelli’s “Hamlet” alongside Mel Gibson, Captain Fluellen in Kenneth Branagh’s “Henry V,” as well as turns in “Dreamchild,” “Brazil,” “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes,” “Wetherby,” “Dance With a Stranger” and Woody Allen’s “Another Woman.”

During the ’90s he had meaty starring roles in Steven Soderbergh’s “Kafka” and David Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch” as well as in Nicholas Hytner’s “The Madness of King George,” Branagh’s “Frankenstein” and “The Fifth Element.”

Holm turned in several outstanding performances in top independent movies including Stanley Tucci’s “Big Night” and “Joe Gould’s Secret” and, especially, in Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter,” where his performance as the pained lawyer futilely seeking redress in the wake of a Canadian town’s tragedy was “bottomless with its subtlety,” Roger Ebert said.

He worked for Cronenberg again but was wasted in “eXistenZ.”

The actor, who cut his teeth in the theater, still did stagework occasionally. Holm starred as Astrov in “Uncle Vanya” in 1979 and as King Lear in 1997. The latter brought him an Olivier award as best actor, and he repeated both performances on television, winning an Emmy for “Lear” in 1999. In 1993, he starred in a production of Pinter’s “Moonlight” onstage with wife Penelope Wilton.

He returned to the role of Napoleon in 2001 film “The Emperor’s Clothes.” (He had first played Bonaparte in the 1972 TV series “Napoleon and Me,” then comically in “Time Bandits.”) In a generally negative review of the film, the New York Times said, “In a sly, deadpan performance, Mr. Holm does his best to realize the movie’s gentle comic vision.”

In his 70s Holm continued to show up in high-profile films — none more high profile than the “Lord of the Rings” movies, in which he played Bilbo Baggins. He was a sadistic doctor in the Hughes brothers’ “From Hell,” with Johnny Depp, and played meteorologists in Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic “The Day After Tomorrow” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.”

But he was also one of the starring voices in the stylish animated film noir sci-fier “Renaissance” and the delightful animated feature “Ratatouille.” Holm made some other interesting choices in the 2000s, appearing in the indie comedy “Strangers With Candy”; as an outrageous psychoanalyst in “The Treatment”; and as David Ben Gurion, the first president of Israel, in Elie Chouraqui’s “O Jerusalem.”

He returned to the role of Bilbo Baggins for two “Hobbit” films, “An Unexpected Journey” and “The Battle of the Five Armies.”

Ian Holm Cuthbert was born in Goodmayes, England, and entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1950, leaving in 1953 to do his military service.

The following year he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-on-Avon and made his debut as a spear carrier in “Othello.” Holm made his West End debut in 1956’s “Love Affair” and toured Europe with Laurence Olivier in “Titus Andronicus,” rejoining the RSC in 1957 and breaking out in 1959 with his celebrated Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and as the Fool in “King Lear.” He remained with the RSC until 1967, appearing in starring roles in “The Tempest” (as Ariel), “Richard III,” “Henry V” and “Henry IV, Part 1” and “Part 2.”

In 1965 he appeared to great acclaim as Lenny in the original production of Pinter’s “The Homecoming”; he won a Tony when he repeated the role on Broadway in 1967 and played the role again in Pinter’s 1973 big-screen adaptation.

In 1968 he made his film debut in “The Bofors Gun,” a British film that brought him a BAFTA Award for supporting actor. Thereafter, he appeared more regularly in movies and on television than onstage.

Over the next few years, he had supporting roles in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Fixer,” “Oh! What a Lovely War,” “Nicholas and Alexandra” and as King John in “Robin and Marian.” Other assignments included “Young Winston,” “Juggernaut,” “Shout at the Devil” and, for television, “Les Miserables,” “The Man in the Iron Mask,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Jesus of Nazareth.” For the American miniseries “Holocaust” and “Inside the Third Reich,” he played Heinrich **** and Joseph Goebbels, respectively.

He won a second Emmy in 2001 for his roguish work opposite Judi Dench in HBO telepic “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells.” With wife Wilton he appeared in “The Borrowers” and “The Return of the Borrowers” for Brit TV, and he was one of an all-star cast of voices that contributed to the live-action version of “Animal Farm” that aired on TNT in the U.S.

Holm also did a considerable amount of voiceover and narration work. He narrated the documentaries “Stalin,” “Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen” and “Hiroshima: The Decision to Drop the Bomb”; “The Seas of Zanzibar” and “Skin Deep,” both for the Discovery Channel; and “Holocaust on Trial” for PBS.

Holm was married four times, first to Lynn Mary Shaw. His second wife was film still photographer Sophie Baker. Their marriage ended in 1986. Holm married Wilton in 1991, and divorced in 2001.

He is survived by his fourth wife, artist Sophie de Stempel, whom he married in 2003; three daughters, Jessica, Sarah-Jane, who did some film acting, and Melissa, a casting director; and two sons, Barnaby, who acted as a child, and Harry, a filmmaker who makes music videos.

 

he certainly was way up there at age 88 & of course snagged an Oscar **** in that yrs massive upset in *CHARIOTS IF FIRE

 

1981 was yet another strong cinematic year

 

BP contenders were> *CHARIOTS OF FIRE-(4), REDS-(the predicted winner by about  85%), ATLANTIC CITY-(my own winner, sheer perfection & lived there just after it was filmed in AC), ON GOLDEN POJD-(it was between this & REDS pundits forecated would sweep)
& RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK-(tech won the most overall with 5)

 

AS FOR S. ACTOR & HOLM>  *JOHN GIELGUD in Arthur, JAMES COCO, Only When I Laugh, NICHOLSON in Reds,  HOLM & HOWARD E. ROLLINS,JR in Ragtime (a completely ridiculous nomination, he was great, but the obvious leading role instead???

 

AND PER SUAL THE MAN LEFT OUT IN THE COLD   JAMES FRANCIS CAGNEY at age 82 also from RAGTIME?????

 

 

 

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Sweet Hereafter (strong ***1/2 out of four stars) is a film most should check out  There was AMPAS buzz forHolm earning his 2nd nod

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Maybe TCM will have a night of his films. 

Sweet Hereafter should be shown on TCM. Dare I say, as an Essential?

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Just now, yanceycravat said:

Maybe TCM will have a night of his films. 

Sweet Hereafter should be shown on TCM. Dare I say, as an Essential?

you hit it

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