Bernard Hill Dead at 79 Years Old

( – This year has seen the loss of many talented actors and musicians. Richard Lewis, Glynis Johns, Joyce Randolph, and Toby Keith are among those ranks. Sadly, Bernard Hill, a British actor known for his roles in several prominent movies, has joined the list.

Hill passed away on Sunday, May 5, according to a family statement released by talent agency Lou Coulson Associates. The notice did not say where or how he died.

The actor was born just outside of Manchester, England, in December 1944 to blue-collar parents. He went into the trades, himself, taking on a job in construction as a teenager before he decided to attend drama school. He graduated from Manchester Polytechnic, which is now known as Manchester Metropolitan University, in 1970. From there, he went on to earn small roles in TV dramas and made-for-television movies in the 1980s.

Hill said the role that put him on the map was that of Yosser Hughes in “The Black Stuff,” a British movie. Hughes was an unemployed father trying to raise three children on no income. One critic for The New York Times wrote that the actor’s portrayal of the role was “a powerful tour de force, his eyes constantly conveying Yosser’s bottomless despair and unending panic.”

In America, Hill is more widely known for his roles in box office powerhouses “Titanic” and “Lord of the Rings.” In the former, he played the ship’s captain, who makes a foreboding comment “let’s stretch her legs,” a statement that alludes to the ship’s speed being a possible factor in its tragic collision with the iceberg. He’s later seen at the Titanic’s helm as water rushes in, indicating he went down with the ship, as most captains do.

In “Lord of the Rings,” however, he had a more prominent role, that of the king of Rohan, Théoden. He appeared in the second and third installments of the movie in 2002 and 2003, respectively.

Hill leaves behind a fiance and a son.

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