Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson pays tribute to the “wonderful” Ian Holm

Peter Jackson – the director of the Lord of the Rings (opens in new tab) and Hobbi (opens in new tab)t trilogies – has shared a heartwarming tribute to Sir Ian Holm, who died at the age of 88 (opens in new tab)

The Oscar-nominated actor – best known for playing Bilbo Baggins – died peacefully in hospital on June 19, according to his agent. “It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88,” they said, adding that the death was related to Holm having Parkinson’s.

Writing on Facebook (opens in new tab), Jackson recalls working with the “quiet, but cheeky” actor on the acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy. “I was nervous about working with such an esteemed actor, but he immediately put me at ease,” Jackson writes on Facebook. 

“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.”

(Image credit: New Line)

The filmmaker details how, while filming a scene in which Bilbo tells a group of children a story, Holm was tasked with keeping the younger actors entertained despite being seated in the same spots for hours. Holm ended up making up stories to keep them happy. “As the kids were ushered off set, and the crew moved onto the next sequence, Ian said that he’d never worked so hard in his life!” Jackson writes.

He goes on to explain how Holm almost ended up not being part of the Hobbit trilogy due to having Parkinson’s. However, after a lively dinner, Jackson and producer/wife Fran Walsh came up with a way to accommodate for Holm – they moved Bag End from New Zealand to England. 

“Over the course of four days we filmed everything we needed. [Frodo actor] Elijah Wood and Ian had become friends back on Lord of the Rings, and Elijah was on set in London every day, giving Ian additional support,” Jackson writes. “In the finished movie, I hope that audiences just see Ian Holm reprising Bilbo. But what I experienced on set was a wonderful actor delivering his last performance. It was incredibly brave of him to do that, and very emotional for those who witnessed it.”

Jackson concludes by calling his time working with Holm a “privilege,” finishing: “Farewell, dear Bilbo. Safe travels, darling Ian.”

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