Bernard Hill, Titanic and Lord of the Rings Actor, Dead at 79

Bernard Hill, the English actor known for his parts in films like Titanic, The Lord of the Rings, and more, has died. He was 79 years old.

Hill’s passing was confirmed on Sunday by his agent Lou Coulson (per the BBC).

Born in Manchester, England on December 17th, 1944, Hill was the son of a miner and grew up in working class conditions. After graduating from the Manchester School of Theatre in 1970, he began his acting career with a string of television and film performances. In 1976, he had a small role in the show I, Claudius, and in 1979, he debuted as Yosser Hughes in the television play The Black Stuff, which then became the acclaimed series, Boys from the Blackstuff.

As Hughes, Hill gave a voice to the working class of England during the economic and social difficulties of the Thatcher era. An out-of-work tarmac layer struggling to hold on to a sense of dignity, his character’s catchphrase — “Gizza’ job,” or “give us a job” — resonated with many, and became a popular expression in the 1980s.

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After Boys from the Blackstuff, Hill appeared in films like Gandhi and more BBC TV programs, portraying the Duke of York in a series on Henry VI and John Lennon in the 1985 title John Lennon: A Journey in the Life.


In the 1990s, Hill appeared alongside Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer in the man-eating lion film, The Ghost and the Darkness, starting a run of bigger film appearances. In 1997, he had perhaps one his best-remembered roles: that of Captain Edward James Smith in James Cameron’s 1997 masterpiece, Titanic.

Beyond Titanic, another of Hill’s iconic roles was playing King Théoden of Rohan in the second and third films in Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, delivering the classic lines in the face of Sauron’s army, “Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride for ruin and the world’s ending!” Watch a clip of the scene below.

Between those two roles, Hill actually had earned the distinction of being the only actor to have ever appeared in two films that won 11 Academy Awards.

Through the 2000s and 2010s, Hill continued working, appearing in films like 2008’s Valkyrie, and narrating series for the BBC, like Ocean Odyssey, Wild China, and more. In fact, he continued working until this year, and will even appear in the second season of the TV drama, The Responder, which premieres today, May 5th.


Hill is survived by his wife, actor Marianna Hill, and their son Gabriel.

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