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Bernard Hill (born 17 December 1944) is a Britishmarker actor of film, stage and television. In a career spanning thirty years, he is best known for playing Captain Edward John Smith in Titanic, King Théoden in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and as the Warden of San Quentin Prisonmarker in the Clint Eastwood film True Crime. Hill is the only actor to have appeared in more than one of the three films awarded 11 Oscars, and in more than one film grossing more than $1 billion USD, namely: Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This latter record would later be matched by Orlando Bloom who starred in Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Lastly, Hill has appeared in three films which have won Best Picture: Gandhi, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.


Early life

Hill was born in Blackleymarker, Manchestermarker, Englandmarker. He attended Xaverian Collegemarker although at the time it was known as "Xaverian School", and then Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama at the same time as Richard Griffiths. He graduated with a diploma in theatre in 1970.


Hill first came to prominence in Britain through his portrayal of Yosser Hughes, a working-class man ultimately driven to the edge by an uncaring system, in Alan Bleasdale's BBC Play for Today The Black Stuff and its more famous series sequel (also by Bleasdale), Boys from the Blackstuff. His character's much-repeated phrase "Gizza job" ("Give us a job") became popular with protesters against Margaret Thatcher's government, because of the high unemployment of the time.

He had previously taken smaller parts in a number of British television dramas, notably appearing as the no-nonsense Roman soldier Gratus in I, Claudius, and as Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York in the BBC's 1982 productions of Shakespeare's Henry VI plays. In addition to TV roles, Hill appeared on stage in The Cherry Orchard, and the title roles in Macbeth and A View from the Bridge.

Hill became known to a worldwide audience when he was cast in the role of King Théoden of Rohan in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy based on Tolkien's novel trilogy of the same name. Before casting him as King Théoden, director Peter Jackson considered Hill for the part of Gandalf. When he was due to leave the set at the end of production, Peter Jackson gave Hill two gifts, Théoden's helmet and sword Herugrim.

At the 2006 BAFTA Television Awards, Hill was nominated for the 'Best Actor' award for his portrayal of David Blunkett in the one-off satirical drama A Very Social Secretary/

Personal life

Hill currently lives in Suffolk. Previously he had a relationship with Kathy Bates. He is married, and has a son named Gabriel.

Selected stage and screen credits


Year Play Role Theatre
1974 John, Paul, George, Ringo... and Bert John Lennon Lyric Theatre, London
1978 Twelfth Night Toby Belch Young Vicmarker, London
1983 Short List Howard Hampstead Theatremarker, Londonmarker
1986 Macbeth Macbeth Haymarket Theatremarker, Leicestermarker
1989 The Cherry Orchard Lopakhin Aldwych Theatremarker, London
1990 Gasping Sir Chiffley Lockheart Theatre Royalmarker, Haymarketmarker, London
1995 A View from the Bridge Eddie Carbone Strand Theatremarker, London
Information taken from


Year Film Role Notes
1975 It Could Happen to You Syph
1976 A Choice of Weapons Blind Freddie Film also known as Dirty Knight's Work, A Choice of Arms, and Trial by Combat
1978 The Sailor's Return Carter
1982 Gandhi Sergeant Putnam
1983 Squaring the Circle Narrator Documentary
Runners Trevor Field
1984 The Bounty Cole
1985 Restless Natives Will's father
The Chain Nick
Samson and Delilah Willie Naknervis
1986 Milwr Bychan Officer Film also known as Boy Soldier
New World John Billington
No Surrender Bernard
1987 Bellman and True Hiller
1988 Drowning by Numbers Henry Madgett
1989 Shirley Valentine Joe Bradshaw
1990 Mountains of the Moon Dr. David Livingston
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
1993 Shepherd on the Rock Tam Ferrier
1994 Skallagrigg John
Drug Taking and the Arts Presenter and narrator Documentary
1995 Madagascar Skin Flint
1996 The Ghost and the Darkness Dr. Hawthorne
1997 The Wind in the Willows Engine driver Film also known as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Titanic Captain E. J. Smith One of two films in which Hill stars, that have won 11 Oscars.
The Mill on the Floss Edwards Tulliver
1999 The Titanic Chronicles Captain S. Lord
The Criminal Walker
True Crime Lunther Plunkitt
A Midsummer Night's Dream Egeus Film also known as Sogno di una notte di mezza estate
The Loss of Sexual Innocence Susan's father
2000 Blessed Art Thou Frederick
Einstein Voice of Stalin Film also known as The Furnace
Going Off Big Time Murray
2002 The Scorpion King Philos
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers King Theoden
2003 The Boys from County Clare John Joe
Gothika Phil Parsons
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King King Theoden The second film in which Hill starred, that won 11 Oscars
2004 Wimbledon Edward Colt
The Deal Victor Short film
2005 The League of Gentleman:The Apocalypse King William
2006 Joy Division Dennis
Save Angel Hope Oscar Kurz
2007 Exodus N/A Film made for television. Broadcast on Channel 4
2008 Valkyrie Unnamed German General in the desert
Information taken from,, and The Internet Movie Database


Year Programme Role Episodes Broadcasting Network
1973 Hard Labour N/A N/A BBC
1976 I, Claudius Gratus 1 BBC
1978 Pickersgill People N/A 1 BBC
1979 Telford's Change Jack Burton 1 BBC
The Black Stuff Yosser Hughes 5 BBC
1980 Fox Vin Fox 11 ITV
1982 Boys from the Black Stuff Yosser Hughes 5 BBC
Henry VI Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York 1 BBC
1985 The Burston Rebellion Tom Higdonmarker 1 BBC
1993 Olly's Prison Mike 1 BBC
1994 Once Upon a Time in the North Len Tollit N/A BBC
1999 Great Expectations Abel Magwitch 2 BBC
2001 Horizon Narrator 9 BBC
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
2008 Sunshine Granddad Crosby 3 BBC
Information taken from The Internet Movie Database

References and notes

External links

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