Bernard Hill, actor known for “Titanic” and “Lord of the Rings,” dead at 79

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Actor Bernard Hill, known for his roles in “Titanic” and “Lord of the Rings,” died early Sunday, family members confirmed.

Hill was 79. He was with his fiancée and his son when he died, his agent Lou Coulson said.

The actor’s career began in 1974, with roles in several TV shows. One of Hill’s most well-known roles was as Captain Smith in James Cameron’s 1997 epic “Titanic.” His character, which was based on Captain Edward Smith, the commander of the real-life Titanic, went down with the ship in the film.

Hill also played Théoden, King of Rohan, in both “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Film Society of Lincoln Center Special Screening of The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
Sean Astin, Bernard Hill, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis

Jim Spellman/WireImage via Getty Images


The actor was meant to be at Comic Con Liverpool this weekend, but had to cancel, organizers said on social media.

“We’re heartbroken to hear the news of Bernard Hill’s passing,” Comic Con Liverpool wrote. “A great loss. Thinking of his family at this very sad time, and wishing them a lot of strength.”

Actor Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in the “Lord of the Rings” series, remembered the actor at the event, video shared online shows. 

“He was intrepid. He was funny. He was gruff,” Astin said. 

Hill’s passing was mourned by the British Academy Film Awards, more commonly known as the BAFTAs. Hill was nominated for two BAFTAs for “A Very Social Secretary” and his breakout performance in “Boys From The Blackstuff,” which won the Drama Series BAFTA in 1983.

Hill’s other roles included Philos in 2002’s “The Scorpion King.” Most recently, he appeared in the BBC drama “The Responder,” which was scheduled for return on Sunday.

“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,” BBC Drama Director Lindsay Salt said. “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.”





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