On Friday, the world learned of the death of Lord of the Rings star Ian Holm. Holm played the adventurous hobbit Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's Academy Award-winning adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's seminal fantasy trilogy. Following the news of Holm's death, Jackson took to Facebook to write and share a tribute to the 88-year-old actor. He recounted his experience working with Holm beginning with The Fellowship of the Ring up to Holm coming out of retirement to return in The Hobbit. Holm had retired due to the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Jackson went out of his way to make Holm's return as easy as possible for the actor but still knew Holm was only doing it as a kindness.
"Over a decade later, we hoped that Ian would play Bilbo again for the opening scenes of The Hobbit," Jackson recalls. "Fran and I had dinner with Ian and his wife Sophie in London, and he told us that he was very sorry, but he couldn't do it. Adding to our shock, he confided that 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.
"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 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."
Jackson shares plenty more in his post, which you can read in full here.