The last days of Holm have been documented in a series of pastel portraits by his wife, Sophie de Stempel.
Holm, who won a Bafta and was nominated for an Oscar for his role as a coach, non-conformist athletics Sam Mussabini in the film Chariots of Fire 1981 may have had the air for a career in support roles, colorful on-screen – especially after having left the theatre in 1976 after a serious case of stage fright – but he has found a new generation of fans after being chosen as Bilbo Baggins in the trilogy blockbusting Lord of the Rings.
Earlier this month, he expressed his sadness of not being able to participate to a virtual meeting for the film, saying: “I am sorry not to see you in person, I miss you all and I hope that your adventures have taken him to many places, I am locked in my house of Hobbit, or Holm. ”
Holm was born in 1931 in Essex, where his father was superintendent of the psychiatric hospital of the West Ham Corporation; he later described his childhood as “an existence quite idyllic”. Fell in love early childhood, he went to Rada in London at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford, to continue to be part of the Royal Shakespeare Company at its founding in 1960.
Holm became a leading figure of the RSC, winning a best actor award Evening Standard for Henry V in 1965, in the framework of the cycle seminal Wars of the Roses put in place by Peter Hall and John Barton. It has also won praise for his work with Pinter, playing Lenny in the first production of The Homecoming (for which he won a Tony Award after its transfer to Broadway), and then in the film version in 1973, directed by Hall. Not least of Pinter himself, who would have said of Holm: “He puts on my shoe, and it is going! “
Holm has suffered a great fear of the stage, which he described as “a kind of failure” during a performance of The Iceman Cometh in 1976, which he described as ” a scar in my memory that will never fade “. Having abandoned the theatre, Holm has developed his career as a comedian, hitherto largely confined to roles regular but sporadic in british films such as The Bofors Gun, Oh! What a lovely war and young Winston. Considered as a pair of hands for sure, his casting as the android Ash in the film Alien directed by Ridley Scott has given him an international exposure so far unique. This role was followed by her turn as a Mussabini, the coach ostracized from the sprinter Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire.
After his nomination for best supporting actor for Chariots of Fire in 1982 (he lost against John Giegud for Arthur), Holm was now a great actor in good faith, although the one whose qualities eccentric and pugnaces were best suited for parts that support memorable. He played Napoleon in Time Bandits, Terry Gilliam, and the unfortunate Mr. Kurtzmann in Brazil by the same director; other highlights include Lewis Carroll in Dreamchild, the fantasy of Alice scripted by Dennis Potter, Dr. Willis in The madness of king George and the father of Cornelius in the epic science-fiction de Luc Besson’s The fifth element. However, he has found a leading role in the adaptation of Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Herfter of Russell Banks, released in 1997, epitomizes the lawyer for the mild language that persuades the bereaved parents to initiate a class action after the death of several children in a bus accident.
Holm returned to Shakespeare in 1997, in King Lear directed by Richard Eyre at the National Theatre in London, and was knighted a year later for “services to theatre”. After playing Frodo Baggins in an adaptation for radio of Lord of the Rings in 1981, Holm has been chosen as Bilbo in the screen adaptation in three parts by Peter Jackson, with filming on The Fellowship of the Ring from 1999. Bilbo is not appeared in The Two Towers , but Holm is back for the last part, the return of The king, and the first and third episodes of the trilogy Hobbit, which was published in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
Between the two series of adaptations of Tolkien, Holm has developed a reputation for unexpected lothario, after the publication of his autobiography in 2004. Hailed by the Daily Mail as a “Lord of the flings”, it has made the chronicle of his marriages in a number of his extramarital relationships. He is survived by his fourth wife, Stempel, and five children from previous relationships, as well as his third wife, the actor Penelope Wilton.