Bernard Hill nous a quittés RIP

Bernard Hill

Bernard Hill (17 December 1944 – 5 May 2024) was an English actor. He is known for playing Théoden, King of Rohan, in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Captain Edward Smith in Titanic, and Luther Plunkitt, the Warden of San Quentin Prison, in the Clint Eastwood film True Crime. Hill is also known for playing roles in television dramas, including Yosser Hughes, the troubled “hard man” whose life is falling apart in Alan Bleasdale‘s Boys from the Blackstuff in the 1980s, and more recently, as the Duke of Norfolk in the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel‘s Wolf Hall.

Early life[edit]

Hill was born in BlackleyManchester. He was brought up in a Catholic family of miners.[1] Hill attended Xaverian College, and then Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama at the same time as Richard Griffiths. He graduated with a diploma in theatre in 1970.[2]


Hill first came to prominence as Yosser Hughes, a working-class Liverpudlian man ultimately driven to the edge by an uncaring welfare system, in Alan Bleasdale‘s BBC Play for Today programme, The Black Stuff, and its series sequel, Boys from the Blackstuff.[2] His character’s much-repeated phrase Gizza job (“Give us a job“)[2] became popular with protesters against Margaret Thatcher‘s Conservative government, because of the high unemployment of the time.[3]

Hill then appeared as Sergeant Putnam in Gandhi (1982), directed by Richard Attenborough. Next for him was Roger Donaldson‘s The Bounty (1984), a fourth dramatisation of the mutiny on HMS Bounty.[4] He had previously taken smaller parts in a number of British television dramas, appearing in I, Claudius in 1976 as the character Gratus.[4]

Hill at a Lord of the Rings convention in Bonn, Germany, October 2004

In 1985, he played the lead role in a TV dramatisation of John Lennon‘s life, A Journey in the Life. In addition to TV roles, Hill appeared on stage in The Cherry Orchard,[4] and the title roles in Macbeth and A View from the Bridge.[4]

Hill appeared as Joe Bradshaw in Shirley Valentine (1989),[4] about a Liverpool housewife (Pauline Collins) who was a former anti-establishment rebel and engages in an extramarital affair. Hill added more prominent films to his resume, including Mountains of the Moon (1990),[4] Skallagrigg (1994) and Madagascar Skin (1995).[4]

In the mid-1990s, Hill began appearing in films more regularly. His first major role came in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996),[5] starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas. Hill then portrayed Captain Edward J. Smith in Titanic (1997), by James Cameron.[6]

Hill played Philos in The Scorpion King (2002), starring Dwayne “The Rock” JohnsonMichael Clarke Duncan and Kelly Hu.[4]

In 2002 and 2003, Hill played King Théoden of Rohan in the 2nd and 3rd films of Peter Jackson‘s epic trilogy The Lord of the Rings.[7]

He held a minor role in the 2008 film Valkyrie, as the commanding general of the 10th Panzer Division of the German Afrika Korps, and was a voice actor for Sir Walter Beck in Fable III (2010).[8]

Hill was the voice of The Judge in the American stop-motion animated comedy horror film ParaNorman in 2012.[9] He played Samuel Cotton, who ran a sweet factory with his son in the 2014 three-part BBC drama series about Manchester From There To Here.[10]

He appeared as Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in the 2015 six-part BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel‘s novels, Wolf Hall.[11] Later in 2015, he starred as John Claridge in the British gangster movie North v South.[12]

Personal life and death[edit]

Hill was married to the American-born actress Marianna Hill, with whom he had a son named Gabriel. He lived in Suffolk.[2] Hill was a longtime supporter of Manchester United.[13] In 2019, Hill received an honorary degree from the University of East Anglia.[14]

Bernard Hill died on May 5, 2024, at the age of 79. At the time of his death, he was survived by his fiancée Alison.[15][16]



Year Film Role Notes Ref.
1975 It Could Happen to You Syph Film also known as Intimate Teenage Secrets [17]
1976 Trial by Combat Blind Freddie Film also known as Dirty Knights Work [17]
1978 The Sailor’s Return Carter [17]
The Spongers Sullivan [18]
1982 Gandhi Sergeant Putnam [19]
1983 Squaring the Circle Lech Walesa Documentary [17]
Runners Trevor Field [17]
1984 The Bounty Cole [17]
1985 Restless Natives Will’s father [17]
The Chain Nick [17]
Samson and Delilah Willie Naknervis [17]
1986 Milwr Bychan Officer Film also known as Boy Soldier [17]
New World John Billington [20]
No Surrender Bernard [17]
1987 Bellman and True Hiller [17]
1988 Drowning by Numbers Henry Madgett [17]
1989 Shirley Valentine Joe Bradshaw [19]
1990 Mountains of the Moon Dr. David Livingstone [17]
1991 The Law Lord Martin Allport
1992 The Name of the Game Ignatius “Iggy” Smith Film also known as Run Rabbit Run and Double X [17]
1993 Shepherd on the Rock Tam Ferrier [17]
1994 Skallagrigg John
Drug Taking and the Arts Presenter and narrator Documentary
1995 Madagascar Skin Flint [17]
1996 The Ghost and the Darkness David Hawthorne [19]
The Wind in the Willows Engine driver Film also known as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride [17]
1997 Titanic Captain Edward J. Smith Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
One of two films in which Hill stars that have won 11 Oscars.
The Mill on the Floss Edwards Tulliver [17]
1999 The Criminal Det. Insp. Walker [17]
True Crime Lunther Plunkitt [19]
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Egeus Film also known as Sogno di una notte di mezza estate [17]
The Loss of Sexual Innocence Susan’s father [17]
2000 Blessed Art Thou Frederick
Eisenstein Stalin Voice only; Film also known as The Furnace [21]
Going Off Big Time Murray [17]
2002 The Scorpion King Philos [17]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers King Théoden Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated – DVD Exclusive Awards for Best Audio Commentary
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2003 The Boys from County Clare John Joe [17]
Gothika Phil Parsons [17]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King King Théoden Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
The second film in which Hill starred that won 11 Oscars.
2004 Wimbledon Edward Colt [17]
The Deal Victor Short film [17]
2005 The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse King William III [17]
2006 Joy Division Dennis [17]
Save Angel Hope Oscar Kurz [17]
2007 Exodus Pharoah Mann Broadcast on Channel 4 [17]
2008 Valkyrie Confident General – Desert [17]
Franklyn Peter Esser [17]
2011 The Wraith The Narrator Short film [17]
2012 ParaNorman The Judge Voice only [22]
2015 North v South John Claridge [17]
2016 Golden Years Arthur Goode [17]
Interlude City Richard [17]
2018 Second Chance Peter
2023 Forever Young Oscar Smith Last on screen role before death in 2024 [23]


Year Programme Role Episodes Broadcasting Network Notes Ref.
1973 Hard Labour Edward Thornley N/A BBC [24]
1976 I, Claudius Gratus 2 BBC
1977 Our Flesh and Blood Bernard Blencoe 1 BBC [17]
1978 Pickersgill People Harry ‘Sharky’ Finn 1 BBC [17]
1979 Telford’s Change Jack Burton 1 BBC [17]
1979 The Black Stuff Yosser Hughes 1 BBC [19]
1980 Fox Vin Fox 11 ITV [17]
1982 Boys from the Blackstuff Yosser Hughes 5 BBC Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
1983 Henry VI, Part 1 Duke of York 1 BBC Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series [17]
1983 Henry VI, Part 2 Duke of York 1 BBC Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series [17]
1983 Henry VI, Part 3 Duke of York 1 BBC Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series [17]
1983 Richard III First Murderer / Sir William Brandon 1 BBC Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series [17]
1984 Antigone Messenger 1 BBC
1985 The Burston Rebellion Tom Higdon 1 BBC
1985 John Lennon: A Journey in the Life John Lennon 1 BBC [17]
1993 Olly’s Prison Mike 1 BBC [17]
1993 Telltale Det. Sgt. Gavin Douglas 3 ITV [17]
1993 Lipstick on Your Collar Uncle Fred Channel 4 [17]
1994 Once Upon a Time in the North Len Tollit N/A BBC [17]
1995 The Gambling Man Frank Nickle all Tyne Tees TV [17]
1999 Great Expectations Abel Magwitch 2 BBC [17]
1999 The Titanic Chronicles Captain Stanley Lord (voice) N/A
2001 Horizon Narrator 9 BBC [17]
2002 Timewatch Narrator 1 BBC
2004 Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief Himself 1 BBC
2005 A Very Social Secretary David Blunkett 1 Channel 4 Nominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
Nominated – International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor
2006 Ocean Odyssey Narrator 2 Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program
2007 Egomania Narrator 1 Channel 4
2007 Bombay Railway Narrator 2 BBC Series
2008 Sunshine Granddad George Crosby 3 BBC [17]
2008 Wild China Narrator 6 BBC A BBC/CTV/Travel Channel co-production in association with Canal+
2009 Folk America Narrator 3 BBC
2009 Ice Patrol Narrator 4 National Geographic
2010 Old Trafford 100 Years Narrator and Presenter 1 MUTV
2010 Five Days Gerard Hopkirk 5 BBC [17]
2010 Indian Hill Railways Narrator 3 BBC [25]
2010 Canoe Man John Darwin 1 BBC [17]
2012 Falcón Ramón Salgado 2 Sky Episode “The Blind Man of Seville” [17]
2014 From There to Here Samuel Cotton 3 BBC [17]
2014 Hope And Wire Len Russell 3 TV3 New Zealand mini-series [17]
2015 Wolf Hall Duke of Norfolk 6 BBC [17][19]
2015 India’s Frontier Railways Narrator 3 BBC [26]
2015 Unforgotten Father Robert Greaves 6 ITV [19]
2024 The Responder TBA BBC Posthumous release [27]


Year Play Role Theatre Ref.
1974 John, Paul, George, Ringo … and Bert John Lennon Everyman Theatre, Liverpool [24]
1978 Twelfth Night Toby Belch Young Vic, London
1983 Short List Howard Hampstead TheatreLondon
1984 The Plough and the Stars Fluther Good Royal Exchange, Manchester
1986 Macbeth Macbeth Haymarket TheatreLeicester [24]
1989 The Cherry Orchard Lopakhin Aldwych Theatre, London [24]
1990 Gasping Sir Chiffley Lockheart Theatre RoyalHaymarket, London [24]
1995 A View from the Bridge Eddie Carbone Strand Theatre, London

Video games[edit]

Year Video game Role Ref.
2010 Fable III Sir Walter Beck [28]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ “The OxStu talks Titanic, Daniel Day-Lewis and more with film star Bernard Hill”The Oxford Student. 7 June 2012. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d “Manchester Films – Bernard Hill – a biography”. BBC. Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  3. ^ “Out of work – and this time it won’t just be Yosser who will feel the pain | News”. 17 December 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h “Bernard Hill credits”. Archived from the original on 5 June 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  5. ^ Klady, Leonard (7 October 1996). “The Ghost and the Darkness”VarietyArchived from the original on 15 May 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  6. ^ “Bernard Hill visits Titanic’s street of death”BBC. 13 April 2012. Archived from the original on 16 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  7. ^ “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”EW.comArchived from the original on 2 February 2024. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  8. ^ “Behind The Voice Actors – Bernard Hill”Behind The Voice ActorsArchived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  9. ^ “ParaNorman (2012)” 17 August 2012. Archived from the original on 4 June 2023. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  10. ^ “Stellar cast assemble for Peter Bowker’s new BBC One drama, From There To Here”BBC Media CentreArchived from the original on 14 November 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  11. ^ “Wolf Hall – Who are the royal subjects? The Duke of Norfolk (Bernard Hill)”. BBC. Archived from the original on 17 January 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  12. ^ McCahill, Mike (15 October 2015). “North v South review – Romeo and Juliet caught up in gang war”The GuardianArchived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  13. ^ Grimsditch, Lee (22 December 2022). “The Blackley-born actor with a famous catchphrase who made Hollywood history”Manchester Evening NewsArchived from the original on 22 December 2022. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  14. ^ “A Titanic actor, climate change trailblazer and banking boss: Meet UEA’s newest honorary graduates”. Eastern Daily Press. 11 June 2019. Archived from the original on 11 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  15. Jump up to:a b c d e “Bernard Hill: Titanic and Lord of the Rings actor dies”BBC. 5 May 2024. Archived from the original on 5 May 2024. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  16. ^ “‘Titanic’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ star Bernard Hill dead at 79”BNO News. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  17. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi “Bernard Hill CV”. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  18. ^ Lacey, Stephan (2013). Tony Garnett. The Television Series (in Polish). Manchester University Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-84779-584-7. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  19. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Chilton, Louis. “Bernard Hill’s career in 10 roles, from Titanic to Lord of the Rings”. The Independent. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  20. ^ “New World coming”Third Way (Vol. 9, No. 12 ed.). Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd. December 1986. p. 6. Archived from the original on 5 May 2024. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  21. ^ Willis, John; Monush, Barry (2004). Screen World 2003. Screen World. Hal Leonard. p. 307. ISBN 978-1-55783-528-4Archived from the original on 5 May 2024. Retrieved 6 May 2024.
  22. ^ “The Judge Voice – ParaNorman”. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  23. ^ “Forever Young – BBFC”BBFC.
  24. Jump up to:a b c d e f Brown, Mark. “Bernard Hill, Boys from the Blackstuff and Lord of the Rings actor, dies aged 79”. The Guardian.
  25. ^ Unit, Commercial Development. “Indian Hill Railway”ABC ShopArchived from the original on 4 March 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  26. ^ “BBC Four – India’s Frontier Railways”BBC. 2022. Archived from the original on 2 February 2022. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  27. ^ Bernard Hill: Titanic and Lord of the Rings actor dies
  28. ^ “Fable III – Sir Walter”. Retrieved 5 May 2024.


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