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Actor Bernard Hill, ‘Titanic’ captain and Rohirrim king in ‘Lord of the Rings,’ dies at 79

Flowers on a casket. (Unsplash)

Actor Bernard Hill, who famously called his troops to battle as King Theoden of the Rohirrim in “Lord of the Rings” and went down with the “Titanic” as its captain has died. He was 79.

Hill’s death Sunday was confirmed by his agent, Lou Coulson, who did not give a cause. The actor’s fiancée Alison and son Gabriel were by his side, Coulson said.

Born in 1944 in Manchester, England, Hill starred in the 1982 BBC drama miniseries “Boys from the Blackstuff,” in which his Yosser Hughes’ cry “gizza job” (give us a job) became a national catchphrase. He played Sergeant Putnam in “Ghandhi” and acted in numerous British series during the 1970s and 1980s. His 50-year career included starring turns in two of the three highest Oscar-winning movies of all time.

In 1997 his Captain Edward Smith, one of the few characters in “Titanic” to be based on an actual person, opted to go down with the ship rather than snag a lifeboat spot. The film won 11 Oscars, a number later matched by LOTR’s “Return of the King.” Hill appeared in “The Two Towers,” the second “Lord of the Rings” film, and then rallied his weary, outnumbered troops to battle in the third.

Hill died the day the second season of “The Responder,” in which he plays the father of protagonist Martin Freeman, began airing on BBC One.

“Bernard 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,” BBC Drama director Lindsay Salt said in a statement. “We feel truly honored to have worked with Bernard at the BBC.”

Hill was due to appear at Comic Con Liverpool on Saturday, according to BBC News, but had abruptly canceled. The organizers said they were “heartbroken to hear the news.”

With News Wire Services

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