Titanic and Lord of the Rings star Bernard Hill dead aged 79

British actor Bernard Hill, best known for supporting roles in Titanic and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died, his family announced on Sunday.

“It is with the greatest sadness that we must announce that Bernard Hill, renowned actor known for his roles in Titanic and Lord of the Rings, passed away in the early hours of this morning at the age of 79,” his family said in a statement.

“He was with his fiancée Alison and his son Gabriel.”

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Bernard Hill

Hill found fame in his home country starring in 1982’s Boys from the Blackstuff, a gritty drama about unemployed men that become symbolic of the Thatcher era.

But it was in smaller roles, lending quiet dignity to some of the most successful films in cinema history, that he will be most familiar to audiences.

In James Cameron’s 1997 multi-Oscar winning Titanic, Hill plays the ship’s Captain Edward Smith as a man haunted by his role in the tragedy and ultimately resigned to his fate.

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We last see him alone, still clutching the ship’s helm, before the rising water bursts in through the windows.

Hill later appeared in two parts of Peter Jackson’s blockbuster The Lord of the Rings series as Theoden, King of Rohan, who in The Two Towers is manipulated by his adviser before becoming a heroic leader in The Return of the King.

Other film roles included Gandhi, Shirley Valentine and The Scorpion King.

His agent Lou Coulson told the PA news agency that he died in the early hours of Sunday. CNN has reached out separately for comment.

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Bernard Hill in Titanic

Paying tribute, Director of BBC Drama, Lindsay Salt said 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.”

Many fans took to social media to remember the late actor and his legendary screen career.

“Absolutely horrible news, rest in peace bernard hill and thank you for everything,” one person wrote to X (formerly Twitter).

“Bernard Hill was a class act. One of our best. Titanic, LOTR, Sunshine… what a legacy,” another said.

“His portrayal of King Théoden is just incredible – what a legacy to have,” a third agreed.

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