Bernard Hill, the British actor who earned widespread acclaim praise for his work in Titanic and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died.

Bernard Hill, the English actor best remembered for playing Captain Edward Smith in Titanic and King Théoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has passed away at the age of 79.

Bernard Hill’s screen career got started in the early 1970s, kicking it off working for the BBC. And it was that network that Hill would devote so much time on the small screen to. One notable work was the adaptation of I, Claudius (1976). In the early ‘80s, Hill landed a key role on the BBC series Fox before getting a lead in Boys from the Blackstuff, a standout performance that earned him a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actor. He wouldn’t be nominated in that category again for more than two decades (2005’s A Very Social Secretary), although his work between on television was far from lesser, garnering roles in adaptations of the works of Shakespeare and Sophocles.

But most of us are more familiar with Bernard Hill’s film work. Undoubtedly, he is most recognizable for playing the captain of the RMS Titanic in James Cameron’s 1997 epic as the captain who heroically goes down with the ship. It was performances such as this – one which earned him a SAG nomination for the film’s ensemble – that made him a familiar face outside of his mother land. As with Titanic, Bernard Hill earned a SAG nomination for the ensembles of The Two Towers and Return of the King, winning for the latter.

Such an evident devotee Bernard Hill was to the story that he would later appear in The Titanic Chronicles, this time playing Stanley Lord, the captain of the SS Californian, the ship believed to have seen the Titanic on the fateful night.)

But these weren’t the only two real-life figures that Bernard Hill played throughout his 50-year career; he actually played John Lennon twice: once in a Liverpool production of the musical John, Paul, George, Ringo … and Bert and again in the BBC’s John Lennon: A Journey in the Life. But if there’s one other performance of Hill’s I’d recommend, it’s as the Duke of Norfolk in Wolf Hall.

What is your favorite Bernard Hill performance? Give us your choice and leave your condolences in the comments section below.

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