‘Titanic’ Star Bernard Hill Dead at 79

‘Titanic’ Star Bernard Hill Dead at 79

English actor Bernard Hill passed away on Sunday at the age of 79. Hill had a long and prolific career, but he was best known globally for his role as Captain Edward Smith in the 1997 movie Titanic, and his role as King Théoden in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His agent Lou Coulson told the BBC that he died early on Sunday morning, but the circumstances were not announced publicly.

Hill was born in Manchester, England to a working class family on Dec. 17, 1944. He studied acting in college and made his TV debut in 1976 on a long-running English courtroom drama called Crown Court. However, fans and colleagues all agree that Hill’s breakout role was on the 1982 BBC miniseries Boys from the Blackstuff. He played Yosser Hughes, a working class man from Liverpool fed up with the economic disparity of the time, and his catchphrase “gizza job” – meaning, “give us a job” – became popular among real-life protesters.

Hill’s other prominent roles included Sergeant Putnam in the 1982 biographical drama Gandhi John Lennon in the 1985 dramatization A Journey in Life. His work on a wide range of BBC and ITV programming made him a familiar face, but his movie roles in the 1990s made him a household name around the world. That really started with James Cameron’s Titanic, where Hill played the Captain Edward J. Smith. His performance there earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.

Hill played Théoden, king of Gondor in the latter two parts of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy – The Two Towers and Return of the King. He delivered some iconic lines there and participated in that series’ massive cultural success outside of the box office – for example, Hill was nominated for a “DVD Exclusive Award” for Best Audio Commentary for the cast commentary track on The Two Towers.

Hill was still active with fans of that series and other works up until the time of his death. He was scheduled to appear at Comic Con Liverpool on Saturday, but canceled at the last minute. After news of his passing, convention organizers posted condolences for his family. Hill is survived by his wife, actress Marianna Hill and their son Gabriel.


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