Popularly known as "Mr. Ubiquitous" thanks to his versatility as a stage and screen actor, Ian Holm is one of Britain's most acclaimed -- to say nothing of steadily employed -- performers. Although the foundations of his career were built on the stage, he has become an increasingly popular onscreen presence in his later years. Holm earned particular plaudits for his work in Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter (1997), in which he played an emotionally broken lawyer who comes to a small town that has been devastated by a recent school bus crash.
Born on September 12, 1931, Holm came into the world in a Goodmayes, Ilford, mental asylum, where his father resided as a psychiatrist and superintendent. When he wasn't tending to the insane, Holm's father took him to the theatre, where he was first inspired, at the age of seven, by a production of Les Miserables starring Charles Laughton. The inspiration carried him through his adolescence -- which, by his account, was not a happy one -- and in 1950, Holm enrolled at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Coincidentally, while a student at RADA, he ended up acting with none other than Laughton himself.