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Bernard Hill

Bernard Hill, October 2004
Born 17 December 1944 (1944-12-17) (age 65)
Manchester, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1975–present

Bernard Hill (born 17 December 1944) is a British 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 Prison 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 one of only two actors (the other being Orlando Bloom who also starred in The Return of the King, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean) to have starred in more than one film grossing more than $1 billion USD, namely: Titanic and The Return of the King. Hill has appeared in three films which have won Best Picture: Gandhi, Titanic, and The Return of the King.


Early life

Hill was born in Blackley, Manchester, England. He attended Xaverian College 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.[1]


The Boys from the Blackstuff

Bernard Hill as Yosser Hughes.

Hill first came to prominence in Britain through his 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.[1] His character's much-repeated phrase Gizza job ("Give us a job")[1] became popular with protesters against Margaret Thatcher's government, because of the high unemployment of the time.[2]

With his bemused brood of kids never let out of his sight, Bernard Hill's powerful depiction of a man crumbling before your eyes brought him a mantlepiece full of awards but, as he later revealed, almost "drove him to the edge of insanity".

Other works

Hill then appeared as Sergeant Putnam in Gandhi (1982), one of Hollywood’s last great epic movies, directed by Richard Attenborough. Though Hill didn’t figure prominently in the cast, he benefited from being part of a Oscar-winning. Next up for Hill was Roger Donaldson’s The Bounty (1984), a fourth dramatization of the famed mutiny on the HMS Bounty.

He had previously taken smaller parts in a number of British television dramas, appearing as the no-nonsense a soldier of Caligula's bodyguard, who, after the assassination of that emperor Gratus in the acclaimed 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 starred alongside acting greats, including Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier and Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as Mel Gibson and Liam Neeson. Hill then received critical acclaim for his performance as Joe in Shirley Valentine (1989), about a Liverpool housewife (Pauline Collins) who was a former anti-establishment rebel and engages in an extra-marital affair. Hill added more prominent films to his resume, including Mountains of the Moon (1990), Skallagrigg (1994) and Madagascar Skin (1995).

In the mid-1990s, Hill began appearing in films more regularly. His first major role in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), starring Val Kilmer as a bridge-building engineer who must trust a big game hunter (Michael Douglas) despite their mutual animosity. Hill then went down with the ship when he played Captain Smith on the ill-fated Titanic (1997), by James Cameron, whom Hill got along with quite well—an experience most working on the film did not have. Being in the biggest grossing film of all time attracted attention to his career, as Hill became more sought-after for more prominent parts.

Hill played Philos in The Scorpion King (2002), starring The Rock, Michael Clarke Duncan and Kelly Hu.

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 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 TV Awards and International Emmy Award, Hill was nominated for his portrayal of David Blunkett in the one-off satirical drama, A Very Social Secretary.

More recently he was in the movie Valkyrie, in which he co-stars with Tom Cruise and Tom Wilkinson.

Personal life

Hill currently lives in Suffolk. Previously he had a relationship with Kathy Bates. He is married, and has a son named Gabriel.[1]

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 Vic, London
1983 Short List Howard Hampstead Theatre, London
1986 Macbeth Macbeth Haymarket Theatre, Leicester
1989 The Cherry Orchard Lopakhin Aldwych Theatre, London
1990 Gasping Sir Chiffley Lockheart Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London
1995 A View from the Bridge Eddie Carbone Strand Theatre, London

Information taken from[3]


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 Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
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 Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated - DVD Exclusive Awards for Best Audio Commentary
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2003 The Boys from County Clare John Joe
Gothika Phil Parsons
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King King Theoden Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated - Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
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 Assumed to be Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

Information taken from[3],[4], and The Internet Movie Database[5]


Year Programme Role Episodes Broadcasting Network Notes
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 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Best Actor
Nominated - BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
Henry VI Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York 1 BBC
1984 Antigone Messenger 1 BBC
1985 The Burston Rebellion Tom Higdon 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 Nominated - BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
Nominated - International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor
2008 Sunshine Granddad Crosby 3 BBC
2010 Old Trafford 100 Years Narrator and Presenter 1 MUTV
2010 Five Days Gerard Hopkirk 5 BBC
2010 Indian Hill Railways Narrator[6] 3 BBC

Information taken from The Internet Movie Database[5]

References and notes

External links

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