BERNARD HILL, Actor In ‘Titanic’ And ‘Lord Of The Rings,’ Dies At 79 🎊 The Scoper Media 

With a stout frame, bushy whiskers and a weathered visage, he embodied men of authority facing down danger with weary stoicism.

A bearded man in armor sits atop a white horse and appears to be speaking to somebody out of the picture,

Bernard Hill in “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003. He played Théoden, the king of Rohan. He also starred as the ship’s captain in “Titanic.”

Bernard Hill, a British actor who incarnated a humble style of masculine leadership in three hugely successful Hollywood movies, “Titanic” and two films in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, died on Sunday. He was 79.

His death was announced in a family statement sent by a representative of Lou Coulson Associates, a British talent agency. It did not say where he died or provide a cause.

Mr. Hill drew praise from critics for his work in serious TV dramas, small-budget films and theater. But he was best known for playing the ship’s captain in “Titanic” (1997) and the ruler of a horsemen’s kingdom in the second and third installments of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Two Towers” (2002) and “The Return of the King” (2003).

By appearing in “Titanic” and “The Return of the King,” Mr. Hill became the first actor to star in more than one film to gross over $1 billion and the only actor to appear in two of the three films to win a record 11 Oscars (the third is “Ben-Hur”), The Manchester Evening News reported in 2022.

In each film, his stout frame, bushy whiskers and weathered visage helped him embody men of authority who faced danger with reluctance, then acceptance and, finally, self-sacrificial stoicism.

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In “Titanic,” he was Capt. Edward J. Smith. Early in the movie, he grasps the ship’s railing, looks out to sea and instructs one of his crew to increase the ship’s speed: “Let’s stretch her legs,” he declares. The movie ultimately suggests that the undue speed of the ship is a factor in its fatal collision with an iceberg.

After hearing the bad news, Mr. Hill walks in a daze on the ship’s deck, eyes lost in the middle distance, the official regalia of his captain’s outfit rendered absurd. He walks alone to the helm and stands there erect as water bursts through the windows, ensuring that he will go down with his ship.


A man in a captain’s uniform stands at the wheel of a ship, looking through a window as the room in front fills with water.

Mr. Hill as Capt. Edward J. Smith at the helm of the Titanic as it is taking on water.

CBS, via Getty Images

He had a more prominent role in “The Lord of the Rings,” as Théoden, the king of Rohan. Initially prematurely aged and enfeebled because of the conniving evil wizard Saruman, he is restored to vitality by the good wizard Gandalf.


He gradually awakens to the need to fight Saruman, declaiming phrases of weary resolution like “Let them come” and “So it begins.” He leads the Rohirrim, his army’s horsemen, in a climactic victorious battle in “The Two Towers,” but dies leading a charge under similar circumstances in “The Return of the King.”

His prominence in those movies, however, did not capture the breadth of his career. Speaking to The Oxford Student, a university newspaper, Mr. Hill said the role that changed his life was one that few Americans had heard of: Yosser Hughes, a jobless Liverpool resident with a penchant for head-butting, on British TV in the early 1980s.

Bernard Hill was born on Dec. 17, 1944, in Blackley, a small town outside Manchester, England. His father was a miner, and his mother wor

As a teenager, Bernard worked in construction and did not know any actors, but he wound up quitting his job and going to drama school at Manchester Polytechnic (now known as Manchester Metropolitan University). He graduated in 1970.

He first played Yosser Hughes in “The Black Stuff” (1980), a TV movie written by Alan Bleasdale, who wrote Mr. Hill’s part for him. Mr. Hill asked the writer what the character was like. “Well, it’s a guy that goes and smashes meat potato pies on his head and head-butts lampposts!” Mr. Bleasdale said in reply, Mr. Hill recalled in a 2002 BBC interview.

The character, which Mr. Hill reprised in a 1982 mini-series, “Boys From the Blackstuff,” caught fire with the British public for his comic pathos in trying to support his three children alone and without work. He was particularly identified with a catchphrase that came to symbolize anger at the austerity policies of Margaret Thatcher, uttered in Liverpudlian vernacular: “Gizza job. Go on, gizza job. I can do that.”

When Mr. Hill’s work as Yosser Hughes appeared on American television in 1987, a New York Times TV critic, John J. O’Connor, praised his performance as “a powerful tour de force, his eyes constantly conveying Yosser’s bottomless despair and unending panic.” Around the same time, The Times also praised Mr. Hill for playing a bouncer at a seedy nightclub “with splendid blankness” in “No Surrender,” a 1986 movie whose screenplay was also written by Mr. Bleasdale.

His survivors include a fiancée, Alison, and a son, Gabriel.

When the BBC asked this miner’s son about the “glamour” of the “Lord of the Rings” premieres, he demurred.

“Well, it’s like running a marathon in a fur coat,” Mr. Hill said. “It’s hard work, but it looks glamorous from the outside.”