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Ian Holm as Bilbo

Bilbo Ian Holm

Date of Birth: 12 September 1931
Place: Goodmayes, England
5' 6
Education: RADA
Family: Has three children from previous marriages

Bilbo Bilbo Bilbo BilboBilboBilbo

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Born Ian Cuthbert Holm in a mental asylum where his father was psychiatrist and superintendent, he was introduced to the theatre at an early age when his  father took him, at the age of seven, to a production of Les Miserables starring Charles Laughton.  Not long after this he lost his elder brother, Eric, to prostate cancer (which he was recently diagnosed with himself, although he is currently in remission).  In 1950, he enrolled at RADA, where coincidentally he ended up acting with none other than Laughton himself.

After his national service, Holm joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, making his stage debut as a sword carrier in Othello. In 1956, after two years with the RSC, he debuted on the London stage in a West End production of Love Affair; that same year, he toured Europe with Laurence Olivier's production of Titus Andronicus. Holm subsequently returned to the RSC, where he stayed for the next ten years, winning a number of awards.

His film debut was as Puck in Peter Hall's 1968 unsuccessful adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Less disastrous was that same year's The Bofors Gun, a military drama that earned Holm a Best Supporting Actor BAFTA. He went on to appear in a steady stream of British films and television series throughout the '70s, doing memorable work in films ranging from Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) to Alien (1978), the latter of which saw him achieving a measure of celluloid immortality as Ash, the treacherous android.

In the 1981 BBC adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, which was produced and directed by Jane Morgan and Penny Leicester , he played Frodo Baggins, alongside Michael Hordern (Gandalf), Robert Stephens (Aragorn), John Le Mesurier (Bilbo) and Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum).  Listening to this later convinced Peter Jackson to cast Ian as Bilbo.  He was highly acclaimed for his portrayal of Harold Abrahams' coach in Chariots of Fire (1981).  He worked with Terry Gilliam, appearing in the surreal Time Bandits that same year, and again collaborated on the 1985 future dystopia masterpiece Brazil.  Also in 1985, Holm turned in one of his greatest (and most overlooked) performances of the decade as Desmond Cussen, Ruth Ellis' steadfast, unrequited admirer in Dance with a Stranger.  He also continued to bring his interpretations of the Bard to the screen, providing Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989) with a very sympathetic Fluellen and Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990) with a resolutely meddlesome Polonius.

He returned to the stage in the late 90s, after on absence of nearly 20 years following an attack of stage fright, in King Lear, for which he won a number awards.  He also continued with film work including The Madness of King George (1994), as the king's unorthodox physician, The Sweet Hereafter (1997), and Joe Gould's Secret (1999). In 2000, Holm took on a role of an entirely different sort when he starred as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's long awaited adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Holm, who was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1990, was knighted in 1998 for his "services to drama."  

Random Facts

  • On his Hobbit feet in the "Lord of the Rings" films: "These things are like boats with toes."
  • Developed a severe case of stage fright in 1976 while performing The Iceman Cometh and left the theatre. He has only returned three times since then.
  • Ian received an Emmy nomination for the television version of 'King Lear.' Even though he lost to Stanley Tucci, the actor dedicated his award to Sir Ian Holm.
  • In the 1991 television adaptation of The Borrowers, he appeared with his then wife, Penny Wilton 
  • He is the only main character not to make an appearance in the Two Towers, and we only see him in the Fellowship of the Ring, and the Return of the King.


O Jerusalem (2006)
The Treatment (2006)
Chromophobia (2005)
Lord of War (2005) (post-production)
Strangers with Candy (2005)
The Aviator (2004)
D-Day 6.6.1944 (2004) (TV) (voice)
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Garden State (2004) .
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
From Hell (2001) 
The Emperor's New Clothes (2001)
Field of Fish (2000)
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000) (TV)
Bless the Child (2000)
Beautiful Joe (2000)
Esther Kahn (2000)
The Miracle Maker (2000) (TV) (voice)
Joe Gould's Secret (2000)
Gooseberries Don't Dance (1999)
Shergar (1999)
Animal Farm (1999) (TV) (voice)
Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)
The Match (1999)
Simon Magus (1999/I)
eXistenZ (1999)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) (TV)
 King Lear (1998) (TV)
The Fifth Element (1998) (VG)
Incognito (1997) (uncredited)
A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
The Fifth Element (1997)
Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)
Loch Ness (1996)
Big Night (1996) 
The Deep Blue Sea (1994) (TV)
The Madness of King George (1994)
Frankenstein (1994)
The Return of the Borrowers (1993) (TV)
The Hour of the Pig (1993)
The Borrowers (1992) (TV)
Blue Ice (1992)
The Last Romantics (1991) (TV)
Naked Lunch (1991)
Kafka (1991)
A Season of Giants (1991) (TV)
Uncle Vanya (1991) (TV) 
The Stuff of Madness (1990) (TV)
Hamlet (1990/1) 
The Endless Game (1990) (TV)
The Tailor of Gloucester (1989) (TV)
Henry V (1989)
Another Woman (1988)
Game, Set, and Match (1988) TV Series
Murder by the Book (1986) (TV)
The Browning Version (1985) (TV)
Dreamchild (1985)
Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill (1985) (TV)
Television (1985) TV Series
Dance with a Stranger (1985)
Wetherby (1985)
Brazil (1985)
Laughterhouse (1984)
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
The Return of the Soldier (1982)
Soft Targets (1982) (TV)
Inside the Third Reich (1982) (TV)
The Bell (1982) TV Series
Strike: The Birth of Solidarity (1981) (TV)
Time Bandits (1981)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
We, the Accused (1980) (mini) TV Series
All Quiet on the Western Front (1979) (TV)
S.O.S. Titanic (1979) (TV)
Alien (1979)
Les Miserables (1978) (TV)
The Thief of Baghdad (1978) (TV)
The Lost Boys (1978) (mini) TV Series
Holocaust (1978) (mini) TV Series
Flayed (1978) (TV)
March or Die (1977)
Jesus of Nazareth (1977) (mini) TV Series
The Man in the Iron Mask (1977) (TV)
Shout at the Devil (1976)
Robin and Marian (1976)
The Wood Demon (1974) (TV)
Juggernaut (1974)
May We Come In? (1974) (TV)
The Homecoming (1973)
The Man from Haven (1972) TV Series
King Oedipus (1972) (TV)
Young Winston (1972)
Napoleon and Love (1972) (mini) TV Series
Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)
Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)
A Severed Head (1970)
Emma's Time (1970) (TV)
Moonlight on the Highway (1969) (TV)
Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)
The Fixer (1968)
Frankenstein (1968) (TV)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968)
The Bofors Gun (1968)
The Body Snatcher (1966) (TV)
War of the Roses (1965) (mini) TV Series
Girls at Sea (1958) (uncredited)

All letters should be sent to:

Ian Holm
c/o Julian Belfrage Assoc.,
46 Albemarle Street,
London W1X 4PP,

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