Peter Jackson has bid a final farewell to his The Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian Holm, who passed away on Friday.
The British actor lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease, aged 88, and both fans and colleagues have been paying tribute to the cinema star, whose other film credits include Chariots of Fire, Alien, and The Fifth Element, among many others.
His casting as Bilbo Baggins in Jackson’s 2001 epic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring earned Holm legions of new fans around the globe, and the New Zealand filmmaker shared a touching tribute to the star in a Facebook post.
“I’m feeling very sad at the passing of Sir Ian Holm,” the director wrote. “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.”
He said Holm “rarely needed direction” and recalled how the Oscar nominee kept the kids on set amused with tall tales during a storytelling scene.
Holm also starred in two of the three The Hobbit prequel films, though he initially told Jackson he wouldn’t reprise his famous role due to his Parkinson’s diagnosis.
“He had difficulty walking, and certainly couldn’t travel to New Zealand (the film’s location). Always a private man, he told us that he’d basically retired, but wasn’t announcing it,” Jackson explained. “This was a blow because we had worked out a nice way to hand the role over from Ian as Old Bilbo, to Martin Freeman as Young Bilbo. I described this to him, and he liked it.”
Jackson explained to Holm how his mother and uncle had both endured Parkinson’s and ventured they could shoot his scenes in London, with the actor eventually agreeing.
“I knew he was only doing it as a favour to me, and I held his hands and thanked him with tears in my eyes,” he remembered. “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. We will always be enormously grateful to Ian for doing that.”
He finished his note by telling fans: “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… Farewell, dear Bilbo. Safe travels, darling Ian.”
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