Actor Bernard Hill, Captain Of The Titanic And King Theoden In Lord Of The Rings, Dead At 79 – SlashFilm


Hill appeared in other lead roles throughout his career, including playing John Lennon in the 1985 docudrama “A Journey in the Life” (he actually played Lennon three times in total, across screen and stage). However, he is best remembered for his standout performances in movies with massive ensemble casts. In “Titanic,” he was tasked with conveying a complex and devastating character arc within a limited amount of screen time. In his final scene, Captain Smith commits himself to dying at the helm and going down with his ship.

Speaking at Comic Con Antwerp last year, Hill explained that there are no certain records of where the real Captain Smith died, so Cameron asked him for his opinion on where the scene should take place. Hill was surprised to be asked, and at first reluctant to answer, but Cameron encouraged him to think on it. A couple of days later he returned to the director and said, “For the sake of the movie, he (should) be on the bridge. That’s the most dramatic place to be.” 

Hill had a similarly unforgettable death scene in his other most famous role: Théoden, King of Rohan, in the “Lord of the Rings” films. He originally auditioned for the role of Gandalf, but admitted to the Comic Con Antwerp crowd that he was busy directing a play at the time and “didn’t take (the audition) seriously at all.” Fortunately, director Peter Jackson invited him to audition again, this time for the role of Théoden, and it’s now difficult to imagine any other actor in the role. 

Bernard Hill’s final role was in season 2 of the police drama series “Responder,” which premieres today on BBC One and iPlayer.

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