The Lord of the Rings star Bernard Hill (King Théoden) has died

Actor Bernard Hill, best known for playing King Théoden in The Lord of the Rings and Captain Smith in Titanic, has passed away at the age of 79.
In Person: Juror Photocall
In Person: Juror Photocall / Roberto Ricciuti/GettyImages

Bernard Hill, the actor who played King Théoden in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, has passed away. He was 79.

As of this writing, Hill's cause of death has not yet been released. According to The BBC, his agent Lou Coulson confirmed the news that Hill died during the early morning on Sunday, May 5. His fiancée Alison and son Gabriel were with him at the time of his passing.

Hill had a long and prolific career as an actor, but the two roles we know him for best around these parts are Captain Smith from the Oscar-winning Titanic, and King Théoden of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings movies. The Lord of the Rings films are brimming with incredible performances, yet Hill's stands as a compelling cornerstone for the trilogy. I doubt anyone who's watched his turn as the emotionally embattled King Théoden has been able to forget it:

The Lord of the Rings cast and fans pay tribute to Bernard Hill

Since the news of Hill's death broke, many colleagues who worked with the actor have paid tribute to him. That includes Elijah Wood (Frodo), Sean Astin (Sam), Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and Billy Boyd (Pippin), all of whom were on hand at Comic Con in Liverpool, England this past weekend. The group of hobbit actors recalled what it was like to share the set with Hill.

"We love him. He was intrepid, he was funny, he was gruff, he was irascible, he was beautiful," said Astin.

Boyd remembered watching The Lord of the Rings movies with co-star Dominic Monaghan, and how moved he was by Hill's performance "I don't think anyone spoke Tolkien's words as great as Bernard did. He would break my heart. He will be sorely missed," he said.

Many fans have also taken to the internet to grieve the loss of Hill, and celebrate his iconic performance as Théoden. One of the coolest tributes we've seen was shared by @TheMiddleborne on Twitter, who shared a rare clip of The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien reading the Ride of the Rohirrim scene, set to footage of the same scene featuring Bernard Hill from Jackson's Return of the King movie:

@TheMiddleborne is also a weaponsmith, and through sheer coincidence happened to have finished creating a wooden replica of Théoden's sword Herugrim just last week. After hearing the news about Bernard Hill, he dedicated the video showing off the finished blade to the actor:

Our thoughts go out to Hill's loved ones at this time, as well as all those he moved with his performances. We shall never see his like again.

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