Bernard Hill (aka Theoden on The Lord of the Rings) Biography

April 18, 2024
5 mins read

Who is Bernard Hill?

Bernard Hill is an actor, perhaps best known for his role as King Theoden in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and as Captain Edward Smith in “Titanic”. He was born under the Zodiac sign Sagittarius on 17 December 1944, in Blackley, Manchester, England. As of 2021, he is 76 years old, holds British nationality, and is currently residing in the county of Suffolk, in England.

Early life and Family

Nothing is known about his family and siblings, except that he was born into a family of miners. Regarding his education, he attended Xaverian College and then enrolled at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama. He finally obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Theatre, in 1970

Roles in TV

Now a veteran actor, Bernard has more than 70 credits under his belt, having launched his career in 1973 with a minor role in the movie-for-TV “Hard Labour”, followed by several appearances in BBC projects such as “I, Claudius”, Telford’s Change”, and “The Black Stuff”.

In 1982, he landed his breakthrough role starring as Yosser Hughes in the drama series “Boys from the Black Stuff”, based on the TV play “Black Stuff”, consisting of seven episodes. In addition to gaining popularity and exposure, his convincing portrayal earned him the Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actor, and a nomination for BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor.


In the following period, he starred in several BBC adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays, such as “Henry VI” and “Richard III”.

In the ‘90s, he appeared in numerous TV series, seamlessly moving between genres. His most notable roles include in  “Lipstick on Your Collar”, “Great Expectations”, and “The Gambling Man”. At the beginning of the new millennium, he switched from his usual roles and narrated two BBC series, “Horizon” and “Timewatch”.

After appearing in the documentary movie “Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief”, he portrayed David Blunkett in the comedy/drama TV film “A Very Social Secretary”. The made-for-TV film offers a satirical approach to the well-publicized affair between the Home Secretary, Davin, and his publisher Kimberly Quinn. This role earned him two nominations for the BAFTA TV Award for Best actor, and an International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor.

Bernard Hill

In the following period, Bernard bounced between narrating roles, and appearances in various genres of TV series/movies, including “Wild China”, “Five Days”, and “Canoe Man”. His other notable roles include “From There to Here”, “Hope and Wire”, and “Wolf Hall”. Bernard’s last TV appearance was in 2015, in the first season of the British crime series “Unforgotten”.

Role in Movies

Bernard made his movie debut in 1975, portraying Syph in the movie “It Could Happen to You”, followed by his role in the action-adventure film “Trial by Combat”. During his lengthy career, he generally navigated towards movie roles, and in the ‘80s starred in over 10 movies, including “Drowning By Numbers” and “Gandhi”. His role in the latter commercially successful and Oscar-winning film proved to be a wise choice for Bernard, as it served as a career-boosting turn, subsequently ensuring a seamless transition to the American market.


In 1990, he scooped the role of David Livingston in the biographical movie “Mountains of the Moon”, with other notable roles in “The Law Lord”, “Skallagrig”, and “Madagascar Skin”.

In 1995, he stepped away from the British entertainment scene and starred in the historical adventure movie “The Ghost and the Darkness”, alongside Michael Douglass, Tom Wilkinson and Val Kilmer.

After appearing in the comedy movie “The Wind in the Willows”, he landed his first notable role as Captain Edward J. Smith in the 1997 epic romance and disaster film “Titanic”, which garnered him worldwide recognition and fame. Sharing the screen with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, his performance earned a nomination for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, while the movie won numerous awards, including 11 Oscars.

Additionally, the film held the throne as the first movie to take $1 billion at the box office, the highest-grossing movie of all time until 2010, when superceded by “Avatar”.

In 1999 he booked several roles; he appeared in the thriller movie “The Criminal”, crime series “True Crime”, and romantic/fantasy “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”. After a supporting role in the commercially successful action/adventure movie “King of Scorpion”, opposite Dwayne Johnson and Michael Duncan, he marked the beginning of the new millennium portraying King Theodon, a career-defining role in the second and third installments of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

The epic/fantasy blockbuster ” Lord of the Rings: Two Towers”, widely recognized as one of the most influential and greatest movies of all time, won numerous awards and accolades, including two Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.


Bernard’s unique and memorable rendering of King Theodon’s character earned him praise and several awards and nominations.

Reprising his role in the final installment “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”, Bernard yet again delivered a praise-worthy performance, jointly garnering the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in Motion Picture and National Board Review Award for Best Cast. Having gained international fame and a strong foothold in the American market, he continued landing roles in various movies, including “The Leagues of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse”, “Franklin”, and “Exodus”. His latest movie role was in the 2016 British action/comedy “Golden Years”.

Roles in Theater

As an artist with a degree in Theater, it was natural for Bernard to engage in a collaborative form of performing arts, especially at the beginning of his career. In 1975 he had his first role as John Lennon in the play John, Paul George, Ringo…and Ber”. Bouncing between various movie and TV roles, he appeared sporadically in various theater plays such as “Twelfth Night”, “Macbeth” and “The Plough and the Stars”. His last role in the theatre was portraying Eddie Carbone in “A View from the Bridge” in 1995.

Personal life

Even though he’s starred in some of the most iconic movies in the history of cinematography, Bernard doesn’t enjoy being in the limelight or sharing personal information. Additionally, he does not use social media, so it’s hard for his fans to learn more about him and his private life.

While launching his career, he married Marianne, with whom he welcomed a son named Gabriel.


The couple has been together for over decades and still going strong.

Bernard is a huge philanthropist, who has been a part of the 2009 and 2011charitiy events in which he and others abseiled down a lighthouse with the goal of raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution Charity.

In 2019, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letter from the University of East Anglia.

Physical stats and Hobbies

Bernard is 5ft 9ins tall (175cm) and weighs around 220lbs (100kgs). His hair is gray as of old age, and his eyes are blue. He is a huge football fan, and he has been rooting for Manchester United his whole life.

An interesting detail- he holds a purple belt in karate. In his free time, he enjoys horseback riding.

Additionally, he is an avid advocate for accessible mental health.

With a highly prolific career and several successful roles, he shares the stage with Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp as one of the few actors who starred in two out of seven highest-grossing movies of all time.

Interestingly, his role of Theoden also came with a price – in the commentary for the Extended Edition of “The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers”, Bernard disclosed that while filming, he had two serious accidents, breaking his sternum, and having his ear slashed by a sword.

What is his net worth?

As of 2021, his net worth is estimated at $11 million, earned through his nearly five-decades spanning career. He has appeared in several blockbusters, including “Titanic”, which grossed over $2 billion at the box office, and two installments of the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, which grossed nearly $3 billion at the box office.

Olivia Wilson

As the Freelance Writer at Net Worth Post, I steer producing riveting stories about the lives and triumphs of influencers. With an unwavering commitment to precision and a flair for weaving compelling tales, I guide our content creation, from the depths of research to the pinnacle of narrative excellence. My responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of editorial management, including the meticulous investigation, narrative development, and upholding the integrity and high standard of our output.

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