He Went Down With Ship in Titanic, Roused Troops in LOTR

Actor Bernard Hill is dead at 79
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2024 2:30 AM CDT
Lord of the Rings , Titanic Actor Dead at 79
Actor Bernard Hill at the Tobacco Dock on Oct. 12 2001, in London, for the after show party of the world premiere of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."   (William Conran/PA via AP)

Actor Bernard Hill, who delivered a rousing cry before leading his people into battle in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and went down with the ship as the captain in Titanic, has died. Hill, 79, passed away Sunday morning, agent Lou Coulson said, according to the AP. Hill joined the Lord of the Rings franchise in the second film of the trilogy, 2002's The Two Towers, as Théoden, King of Rohan. The following year, he reprised the role in Return of the King, a movie that won 11 Oscars. In one of the film's most memorable scenes, Hill's character fires up his overmatched forces by delivering a battle cry on horseback that sends his troops thundering downhill toward the enemy and his own imminent death.

In Titanic, Hill played Captain Edward Smith, one of the only characters based on a real person in the 1997 tragic romance starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The film also won 11 Academy Awards. As the doomed ship takes on water, Hill's character silently retreats to the wheelhouse. As the cabin groans under the pressure of the waves, he takes a final breath and grabs the wheel as water bursts through the windows.

Hill first made a name for himself as Yosser Hughes in Boys From the Blackstuff, a 1982 British TV miniseries about five unemployed men. He was nominated in 1983 for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for the role, and the show won the BAFTA for best drama series. His death came the same day the second series of the BBC drama The Responder was to air, in which he played the father of the show's star, Martin Freeman. "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, said Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama. "Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time."

(More obituary stories.)

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