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SYFY WIRE Peter Jackson

'Watching Ian Holm perform taught me so much': Peter Jackson pens touching tribute to the late actor

By Donnie Lederer
Ian Holm

This past Friday, the great Ian Holm passed away after a battle with Parkinson's disease at the age of 88.

Over the weekend, fans and colleagues have paid tribute to the actor. Among them were his castmates from the 1979 movie Aliens, where Holm played the android Ash, who risks the entire Nostromo crew's life in an attempt to bring the xenomorph to Earth for study.

Genre fans who may not know Holm's role in Alien may know him as the older Bilbo Baggins from the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies, both directed by Peter Jackson. This past Friday, Jackson posted a beautiful tribute to Holm on his Facebook page.

Jackson talked about his first day working with Holm in Bag End and how Holm was able to calm his nerves instantly.

"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 [a] specific direction.

"And that's what we did. But incredibly, [Ian's] 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."

The first 30 minutes of Fellowship took four weeks to shoot, and according to Jackson, Holm made them enjoyable.

Years later, when Jackson was shooting the Hobbit trilogy, he approached Holm about reprising his role as Bilbo for another short scene. By this time, Holm's illness had progressed, and he had secretly retired. However, after talking with Jackson over dinner, Holm agreed to shoot the scenes in London, rather than travel back to New Zealand.

"By the end of the dinner, he nodded slowly, and said, 'Yes, I think I could do that.' But I knew he was only doing it as a favor to me, and I held his hands and thanked him with tears in my eyes."

He ended the tribute with Holm's line from The Return of the King.

"I think I'm quite ready for another adventure."

"Farewell, dear Bilbo. Safe travels, darling Ian."