Bernard /hill as Théoden, King of Rohan {image via New Line Cinema}

SciFi.Radio regrets to confirm that British actor Bernard Hill, best known for playing Théoden, King of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings movies, and Captain Edward Smith, commander of the ill-fated RMS Titanic in Titanic (1997, has passed away. The BBC described him as “one of Britain’s finest character actors.”

Hail and farewell, Théoden King.
No more will your bright blade swing.
Your name shall linger so long as bards do sing.
Hail and farewell, Théoden King.

Bernard Hill, the Man

Bernard Hill was born December 17, 1944 in Blackley, Manchester, U.K. He died early Sunday morning, May 5, 2024. He was 79. His theatrical career stretched from 1974 to 2024. He was raised Roman Catholic. He studied acting at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama. He graduated with a diploma in theatre in 1970. He was married to American actress Marianna Hill, who appeared in the Star Trek episode “Dagger of the Mind as Dr. Helen Noel (and as Arletty in the horror movie Messiah of Evil (1973). They had one son together, Gabriel Hill. They divorced. Bernard Hill began  his acting career began in amateur theatre with Salford Players. In sports he was a supporter of Manchester United. In 2010 Bernard Hill received an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of East Anglia.

Bernard Hill, Movie Star

Although best known to those of us of the Geeky, Nerdy persuasion as Eowyn’s uncle, the Lord of the Riddermark, Hill appeared in many movies. He was Philos, the court magician in The Scorpion King (2002) and Egeus, Hermia’s father in the remake of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). He played a prison Warden Lither Plunkett in True Crime. (1999) Hill played the famous explorer Dr, Livingstone in Mountains of the Moon (1990). He co-starred in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) as David Hawthorne. Hill played William Cole in the all-star remake of Bounty (1984) with Sir Anthony Hopkins as William Bligh and Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian. He played Phil Parsons in the horror film Gothika (2003). He voiced the judge in ParaNorman (2012). Other horror work included Thornley in The Moor (2023) and The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse (2005), where he played King William. He played Sgt. Putnam in the Oscar-winning film Gandhi (1982). He starred in North v. South (2015) as John Claridge. Hill co-starred with most of Monty Pyrthon in the remake of The Wind in the Willows (1996); he played the engine driver. His final role will be as Father Leonard in the upcoming film, The Pub.

Bernard Hill, Television Actor

In his native England, Hill was well-known for his many television roles. He made his television debut in Hard Labor (1973).The Independent said “Hill’s breakthrough role came in the acclaimed drama Boys from the Blackstuff, playing Yosser Hughes, a Liverpudlian man who unravels when confronted with the injustice of the British welfare system. His catchphrase, “gizza job”, was one of the most iconic and widely recognizable lines of dialogue of the era.” Hill also starred in BBC drama series Blackstuff and its sequel Boys From The Blackstuff, and the 2015 BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall, in which he played the Duke of Norfolk. He co=starred in Fox as Vin Fox. Hill starred in the biopic John Lennon: A Journey in the Life (1985) as John Lennon. He appeared in the BBC’s 1999 adaptation of Great Expectations as Abel Magwitch. He narrated several education shows and documentaries: Timewatch, Horizon, Ocean Odyssey, Bombay Railway, Wild China, Indian Hill Railways, and Ice Patrol. In the classic I, Claudius, Hill played the Roman soldier Gratus.

Honors and Awards

In 1986 and 2006 he was nominated for The BAFTA Award for Best Actor (TV). In 2004, Hill was co-winner of the Critics Choice Award for best ensemble with his LOTR castmates. In 2006, he was nominated for an International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an actor. In 2003 both the Nation Board of Review (USA) and they Online Film Critics Society awarded him and his LOTR Best Ensemble. In 2022, the British Horror Film Festival (UK) awarded him Best Supporting Actor for his work in The Moor.

Hail and Farewell

There were few roles Bernard Hill couldn’t play. From comedy, Arthur Goode in The Golden Years (2016) to horror, The Moor and Gothika, from gangsters to noblemen to working class chaps, he handled each role with aplomb. He will be missed, and he won’t be soon forgotten. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

This video clip is how many of us will remember Dr. Bernard Hill. Click on the link below to see Dr. Hill as Théoden of Rohan.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.