On Friday, June 19, legendary actor Ian Holm passed away at the age of 88. Fans of the fantasy genre will remember the distinguished thespian in the role of Bilbo Baggins in both the Lord of the Rings films and their spinoff The Hobbit. Director of both series, Peter Jackson, took to Facebook to pay tribute to Holm and reminisce about their time spent together making the movies:
“I’m feeling very sad at the passing of Sir Ian Holm. Ian was such a delightful, generous man. Quiet, but cheeky, with a lovely twinkle in his eye. Back in early 2000, before we started shooting our Bilbo scenes for The Fellowship of the Ring, I was nervous about working with such an esteemed actor, but he immediately put me at ease.”
“Standing in Bag End on the first day, before cameras started rolling, he took me to one side and said that he would be trying different things in every take, but I shouldn’t be alarmed. If, after five or six takes, he hadn’t given me what I needed, then by all means I should give him specific direction.”
“And that’s exactly what we did. But incredibly his varied line reads and performances were all quite wonderful. He rarely needed direction. He gave us an amazing range of choices to select from in the cutting room.”
Peter Jackson then goes on to talk about how the late actor went above and beyond to help during the filming of his initial scenes in The Lord of the Rings, keeping children who were sharing the screen with him entertained for hours on end until the crew could finish shooting the scene.
When Jackson met Holm over a decade later to discuss him reprising the role of an older Bilbo for The Hobbit, the actor informed him that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and had essentially retired from the profession. Yet, at Jackson’s behest, Holm agreed to make a comeback to the big screen to play Bilbo one last time.
The filmmaker also mentions how Holm and Elijah Wood, who played his nephew Frodo, met up again on the sets of The Hobbit to film their brief scene together, and Wood made sure to be on set for the shoot every day to provide holm with additional support. Martin Freeman, who played the younger version of Bilbo, was finally able to meet Holm at the premiere of the movie and was naturally starstruck upon encountering the screen legend. Jackson finished off his post by quoting a line from The Lord of the Rings.
“Watching Ian Holm perform taught me so much – as Ian was being his usual quiet self, that just somehow happened. It was a privilege to work with him, and a blessing to know him. I’ve always loved Ian’s performance in the final scenes of Return of the King. “I think I’m quite ready for another adventure. Farewell, dear Bilbo. Safe travels, darling Ian.”
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