Bernard Hill, Who Starred as the Captain in ‘Titanic,’ Dead at 79


Bernard Hill, best known for his roles in Titanic and The Lord of the Rings franchise, has died at the age of 79.

The British actor’s agent, Lou Coulson, confirmed to BBC that Hill died on Sunday, May 5. He did not share a cause of death.

Hill, who played the role of Titanic Captain Edward Smith in James Cameron‘s 1997 blockbuster, is survived by his fiancée Alison and son Gabriel, according to a family statement obtained by CNN.

Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan posted a brief tribute to Hill on Instagram, alongside an image of the late actor. “The Broken king has passed to the grey havens but he will always be remembered,” Monaghan wrote.

Hill’s agent did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Bernard King appears as Captain Edward James Smith in 1997’s ‘Titanic’.

CBS via Getty

Born in 1944 in Manchester, England, Hill’s career spanned more than 50 years. He appeared in The Lord of the Rings as King Théoden of Rohan, 1982’s BBC drama Boys from the Blackstuff, 2002’s The Scorpion King as Philos and of course, Titanic.

He also appeared in the BBC series The Responder, in which he played the father of Martin Freeman‘s character Chris Carson.

“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,” Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, said in a statement.

“From Boys from the Blackstuff, to Wolf Hall, The Responder, and many more, we feel truly honored to have worked with Bernard at the BBC. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time,” Salt added.

Hill was nominated for and took home multiple awards throughout his decades in film and television, including a Screen Actors Guild Award that was given to the cast of 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

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Hill was set to appear at Liverpool Comic Con over the weekend alongside his LOTR castmates. The convention announced on Friday, May 3, via X (formerly Twitter) that he had pulled out due to his partner feeling “very ill,” and had sent fans “his sincere apologies and thanks you all for you understanding.”

The convention later announced the news of Hill’s death on social media, calling it “a great loss.”

Musician Barbara Dickson, who said she worked with Hill on the 1970s musical John, Paul, George, Ringo … and Bert, also shared the news with her followers on X and remembered Hill as a “really marvelous actor.”

“It was a privilege to have crossed paths with him,” Dickson wrote, adding, “RIP Benny x.”

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