Peter Jackson pays touching tribute to Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian Holm


Filmmaker Peter Jackson has paid tribute to his Lord Of The Rings star Sir Ian Holm in a touching Facebook post.

The actor lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease on Friday (June 19, 2020) and Jackson took to social media over the weekend to offer up his thoughts on the “wonderful” Brit, who played Bilbo Baggins in his movies.

“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. 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.”

Jackson also recalled Sir Ian keeping the kids on set amused and engaged with tall tales during a storytelling scene, adding: “After a couple of hours, we shot everything we needed. 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!”

The moviemaker also recounted the painful dinner he had with Holm and his wife Sophie in London, when the actor revealed he couldn’t portray Bilbo in The Hobbit trilogy because “he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and could no longer remember lines”.

“He had difficulty walking, and certainly couldn’t travel to New Zealand. 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. I also told him how my mother and an uncle had both endured Parkinson’s for years, and I was very familiar with the effects of the disease.

“At this point, our dinner – which we thought would be about us describing the new scenes we’d like him to do, and Ian thought would be about him explaining why he couldn’t do it – suddenly turned into a think tank, with Ian, Sophie, Fran (Walsh, Peter’s partner) and I trying to figure out a process that would allow Ian to play Bilbo one last time.

“We’re shooting the movies in New Zealand – but what say we came to London and shoot his scenes close to home? 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 favour to me, and I held his hands and thanked him with tears in my eyes…

“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.”

Jackson and Walsh had another dinner with Sir Ian in London months later, and the director recalled it was “a lovely night, full of humour and fun.”

Peter added: “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.”