Veteran British actor Ian Holm has died at age 88. He was beloved by audiences as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Chariots of Fire, and first reached wide audiences in Alien. His death on Friday was related to Parkinson's disease, his agent, Alex Irwin, told NPR.
Ian Holm could play everyone from King Lear to an android to a hobbit. He told NPR's All Things Considered in 2002 that he was less interested in fame than in being a good actor.
"It's obviously much better than being a quote-unquote movie star," he remarked, "because I think I would find walking down a street and having people scream at you or shouting at you or clapping you on the back or whatever would be intolerable."
Born outside London in 1931, Ian Holm joined the Royal Shakespeare Company when it was founded three decades later, and was celebrated for his stage work. His portrayal of Lenny in the premiere production of Harold Pinter's The Homecomingwon him a Tony Award after its transfer from the West End to Broadway. But he suffered a severe case of stage fright in 1976, during a performance of The Iceman Cometh, and largely turned to movie and television work afterwards. He didn't return to theater for almost two decades.