Bernard Hill, Lord Of The Rings Icon, Dead At 79

By Douglas Helm | Published

Actor Bernard Hill has passed away at the age of 79. Best known for his roles as Captain Edward Smith in Titanic and King Theoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hill passed away early on Sunday, as confirmed by his agent Lou Coulson. His fiancee Alison and son Gabriel were with him at the time of his passing.

A Long Career Before The Two Towers

Bernard Hill got his start in the BBC TV Play for Today program The Blackstuff as Yosser Hughes, a working-class man who has to deal with the welfare system in Liverpool. He would break out in the sequel series Boy from Blackstuff, where his character’s catchphrase, “Gizza job,” or “give us a job,” became a real-world slogan for protesters against Margaret Thatcher’s government at the time. His next big role would be in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi as Sergeant Putnam.

Took Off In The 90s

Throughout the 1980s, Bernard Hill would impress in a number of TV and stage roles, with some of his most prominent television work being his lead role as John Lennon in A Journey in the Life. On stage, he played the lead role in productions of Macbeth and A View from the Bridge. Hill’s film career would really take off in the 1990s with roles in films like Ghost and the Darkness alongside Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer


Bernard Hill’s biggest role to date would come in 1997 when he played the aforementioned role of Captain Edward J. Smith in James Cameron’s seminal blockbuster drama Titanic. Hill would dive back into the adventure genre with The Scorpion King in 2002 before landing his best-known role as King Theoden of Rohan in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy. His fellow Lord of the Ring co-stars Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, and Billy Boyd were amongst the first to pay tribute to Hill after his passing at Comic-Con in Liverpool.

The Lord Of The Rings

Astin said, “He was intrepid, he was funny, he was gruff, he was irascible, he was beautiful,” and Boyd added, “I don’t think anyone spoke Tolkien’s words as great as Bernard did.” Boyd’s comments are well in line with many fans’ opinions of Bernard Hill’s performance as King Theoden. Hill brought grace, nuance, and gravitas to the role of Theoden, making him a fan-favorite character for many.

Beloved By Co-Stars And Fans

Bernard Hill was scheduled to appear at the Comic Con Liverpool event alongside his fellow Lord of the Rings actors but had to cancel at the last minute. His presence will be sorely missed in Hollywood, as Hill continued to deliver incredible performances in his last roles. One of his more recent acclaimed roles was in 2015 when he played the Duke of Norfolk in the BBC series Wolf Hall, adapted from the Hilary Mantel book about Henry VII’s court.

Lots Of Great Performances To Watch

Bernard Hill can also be seen in the second series of the BBC show The Responder, which returns to air on Sunday. The series stars Martin Freeman as an urgent response officer on night shifts. If you want to see one of Hill’s best performances in honor of his passing, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is also available to stream on Max.