Lord of the Rings and Titanic star Bernard Hill Dies, Aged 79


  • Actor Bernard Hill, known for iconic roles, has passed away at 79 according to his agent Lou Coulson.
  • Born in Manchester in 1944, Hill featured in British dramas and was praised for gritty performances.
  • His recent role in
    The Responder
    with Martin Freeman airs today on BBC.

Actor Bernard Hill, who became known for many character roles, including King Theoden in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and as Captain Edward Smith in James Cameron’s Oscar-winning Titanic, passed away on May 5, according to his agent, Lou Coulson. The actor was 79-years-old.

Hill was born in the working-class neighborhood of Blackley, Manchester, England, in 1944, and grew up as part of a Catholic miner’s family, far away from the glamor of Hollywood. His journey into acting began at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama, which was soon followed by many television roles in the mid-1970s.

Hill gained great acclaim for his role as Yosser Hughes in the BBC’s The Black Stuff and its sequel, Boys from the Blackstuff. His portrayal of a desperate man always looking for work became synonymous with the real unemployment crisis in the U.K. at the time. His character’s constant plea for someone to “Gizza job” turned into an echo of the times, and one that has become part of British culture during such times. Hill’s career on the small screen also included noteworthy performances in historical dramas like I, Claudius and a personal portrayal of John Lennon in A Journey in the Life.

Bernard Hill’s Shift To Movies Led To Iconic Roles

The 1980s and 1990s saw Hill expanding his horizon into films. He appeared in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and later in The Bounty, alongside acting in Shirley Valentine and Mountains of the Moon. However, it was his roles in 1997’s Titanic as Captain Edward J. Smith and as King Théoden in The Lord of the Rings trilogy that marked the high points of his cinematic endeavors, contributing to his unique record at the Oscars. Hill has the accolade of being the only actor to appear in two movies that won 11 Oscars.


King Theoden Actor Bernard Hill Refuses to Watch ‘The Rings of Power’

Bernard Hill, the actor who played King Theoden in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, explains why he’ll never watch ‘The Rings of Power.’

Hill made appearances that spanned many genres, from a voice role in the animated horror-comedy ParaNorman, to the historical drama series Wolf Hall, and action blockbusters The Scorpion King in 2002 and 2008 Tom Cruise film Valkyrie. One of his final roles is in the BBC drama The Responder, which stars Martin Freeman and debuts its second season on the same day as the actor’s death.

Hill was expected to appear at a ComicCon event on Saturday in Liverpool, England, but canceled at the last minute. Even organizers shared a message on their social media account, revealing they were “heartbroken” over hearing the news of his passing and offered support to his family at this time.

Tributes Were Paid to Bernard Hill

Bernard Hill by a door in a black jumper

Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, paid tribute to Hill in a statement, saying:

“Bernard Hill blazed a trail across the screen, and his long-lasting career filled with iconic and remarkable roles is a testament to his incredible talent. From Boys from the Blackstuff, to Wolf Hall, The Responder, and many more, we feel truly honoured to have worked with Bernard at the BBC. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time.”

Other tributes were made on social media. You can see several of these below.

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