Bernard Hill: Titanic and Lord of the Rings actor dies

  • Written by Paul Gribbin and Noor Nanji
  • BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Actor Bernard Hill, best known for his roles in Titanic and The Lord of the Rings, has died at the age of 79.

He played Captain Edward Smith in the 1997 Academy Award-winning film and King Theoden in The Lord of the Rings.

His breakout role was in the BBC television drama Boys from the Blackstuff, in which he portrayed Yossar Hughes, a character who struggled – and often failed – to overcome unemployment in Liverpool.

His agent, Lou Colson, confirmed that he died early Sunday morning.

Condolences have poured in for Hill since news of his death spread.

Write on X, Scottish musician Barbara Dixon said he was “a truly wonderful actor”, adding: “It was an honor to meet him. Rest in peace, Penny X.”

Comment on the photo, Bernard Hale as King Theoden in The Lord of the Rings

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Bernard Hale played Captain Edward James Smith in the movie Titanic

Hill, from Manchester, was due to return to television screens in the second season of The Responder, a BBC drama starring Martin Freeman, which begins airing on Sunday.

Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama, paid tribute to him, saying: “Bernard Hill has blazed a trail across the screen, and his long-lasting career full of distinctive and brilliant roles is testament to his astonishing talent.”

In Boys from the Blackstuff, Hill received praise for his bold portrayal of Yossar Hughes, a powerful and memorable character who defended “Jeza’s job” while seeking employment.

The series won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series in 1983, and in 2000 it was ranked seventh on the British Film Institute’s list of the best TV shows of all time.

Comment on the photo, Josser Hughes, played by Bernard Hill, was one of the most memorable characters in the 1982 film Boys From The Blackstuff.

One of Hill’s most memorable television appearances came on the BBC in the 2015 drama series Wolf Hall, adapted from Hilary Mantel’s book about the court of Henry VIII. Portrait of Hale, Duke of Norfolk – uncle of Anne Boleyn and enemy of Cardinal Wolsey.

Hale was also much beloved for his performance in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

He joined the cast of the second film, The Two Towers, in 2002, then returned to the series in the film, The Return of The King, in 2003, which won 11 Oscars.

Other roles in his decades-long career included the 1976 BBC television series I, Claudius, and appearances in 1982’s Gandhi, 1989’s Shirley Valentine, 2002’s The Scorpion King, and the 2008 Tom Cruise film Valkyrie.

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