Date of Birth : Dec 17th 1944
British actor of film, stage and television. He attended Xaverian College although at the time it was known as “Xaverian School”. Hill is reportedly an experienced horseback rider and a purple belt in karate. He also attended Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama at the same time as Richard Griffiths.
Hill came to prominence in the role of the unemployed 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 (1979) and its more famous series sequel (also by Bleasdale), Boys from the Blackstuff (1982). His character’s much-repeated phrase “giz a job” became popular with protesters against Margaret Thatcher’s government, because of the high unemployment of the time. Previously, he had taken smaller parts in a number of British television dramas, notably appearing as the no-nonsense Roman soldier Gratus in I, Claudius (1976). He also played the Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York in the BBC’s 1982 productions of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays. Also on TV, he played the part of Tom Higdon in The Burston Rebellion (1985).
In addition to TV roles, Hill appeared on stage in both ‘The Cherry Orchard’ (Aldwych Theatre) and in the title role in ‘Macbeth’ (Leicester Haymarket Theatre, 1986). He played the coroner Madgett in Peter Greenaway’s film Drowning by Numbers (1988). In James Cameron’s 1997 movie blockbuster Titanic he plays the RMS Titanic’s Captain Edward J. Smith. He appeared as Egeus in the 1999 film version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, this version being set in 19th Century Tuscany, alongside such celebrities as Kevin Kline, Calista Flockhart, Christian Bale, Michelle Pfeiffer and others. He has been in three different versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Hill was cast in the role of King Théoden of Rohan in the second and third of Peter Jackson’s movies based on Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). When he was due to leave the set of The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson gave Hill two gifts, Théoden’s helmet and sword Herugrim.
Before casting him as King Théoden in The Lord of the Rings, director Peter Jackson considered Hill for the part of Gandalf. Hill was also nominated for the award of ‘best actor’ at the 2006 BAFTA Television Awards for his portrayal of David Blunkett in the one-off satirical drama A Very Social Secretary (2005). However, Mark Rylance won the award for his role in The Government Inspector. In 2004 Hill read famous quotations about religion and atheism in the documentary Atheism: A Brief History of Disbelief, written by Jonathan Miller.
Bernard Hill is the only actor who appeared in two of the three most Oscar-awarded movies of all times, Titanic and The Return of the King, both of which were awarded 11 Oscars (the first was Ben-Hur) and the first of two actors to have been in two movies earning more than one billion US dollars at the box office (the other being Orlando Bloom, his Rings co-star). His birthdate coincides with The Return of the King’s release date.