‘So long to our king’: Lord Of The Rings cast pay tribute to co-star Bernard Hill


Elijah Wood and other Lord Of The Rings cast members have paid tribute to their co-star Bernard Hill, who died on Sunday aged 79.

Hill played King Theoden in the Oscar-winning fantasy franchise directed by Sir Peter Jackson.

Wood, who played Frodo Baggins, said on X: “So long to our friend, our king. We will never forget you.”

He also shared a quote from JRR Tolkien‘s novel, on which the films are based, writing: “For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning.”

Dominic Monaghan, who played Merry Brandybuck in the trilogy, wrote: “The Broken king has passed to the grey havens but he will always be remembered. #ripbernard.”

Hill joined the franchise’s cast for the second film in the series, 2002’s The Two Towers, which won two Academy Awards for best sound editing and best visual effects.

He returned to the franchise for 2003’s The Return Of The King, which picked up 11 Oscars, including best picture and best director for Sir Peter.

The actor had been due to attend Comic Con in Liverpool over the weekend but the event announced on Saturday that he had to withdraw at the last minute because of his partner becoming “very ill”.

The post on X added: “He sends his sincere apologies and thanks you all for your understanding.”

Later footage from the event shows Hill’s co-stars paying tribute to him on stage, with Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings, saying: “He was intrepid, he was gruff, he was irascible.”

Billy Boyd, who played Peregrin “Pippin” Took, said: “We were watching the movies and I said to Dom, I don’t think anyone spoke Tolkien’s words as great as Bernard did.”

Actors (L to R) Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill and Elijah Wood pose for photographers as they arrive at the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures 2003 annual awards gala in New York City, January 13, 2004. The group from the film "Lord of the Rings" and was presented the award for Best Acting by an Ensemble. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen PP04010037 JC
Lord of the Rings stars (L to R) Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill and Elijah Wood in 2003. Pic: Reuters

Hill first made a name for himself as Yosser Hughes in Alan Bleasdale’s BBC drama series Boys From The Blackstuff, about five unemployed men, which aired in 1982.

The role earned him a BAFTA TV nomination in 1983, the same year the show picked up the BAFTA for best drama series.

He went on to play Captain Edward Smith in the Oscar-winning 1997 epic Titanic, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Hill as Captain Edward Smith in Titanic. Pic: Shutterstock
Hill as Captain Edward Smith in Titanic. Pic: Shutterstock

In the 2015 BBC adaptation of the Hilary Mantel novel Wolf Hall – about the court of Henry VIII – he played the Duke of Norfolk, uncle to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

He can currently be seen in the second series of BBC drama The Responder starring Martin Freeman, which began on Sunday night.

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Bernard Hill dies aged 79

Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, described him as an “incredible talent” who “blazed a trail across the screen” during his career.

“From Boys From The Blackstuff, to Wolf Hall, The Responder, and many more, we feel truly honoured to have worked with Bernard at the BBC.

“Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time.”

Hill in Return of the King. Pic: Shutterstock
Hill in Return of the King. Pic: Shutterstock

Actress and singer Barbara Dickson, who starred with him in a musical based on The Beatles, described him as a “marvellous actor”.

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Alongside a picture of them together, she wrote on X: “It’s with great sadness that I note the death of Bernard Hill.

“We worked together in John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert, (by) Willy Russell marvellous show 1974-1975.

“A really marvellous actor. It was a privilege to have crossed paths with him. RIP Benny x.”

Meanwhile, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Boys from the Blackstuff was massive in my early life. God love you, Bernard Hill.”

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