'Lord of the Rings' actors pay tribute to 'king' Bernard Hill, proving 'Fellowship' remains strong

Dominic Monaghan, Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd and Sean Astin dressed as hobbits in a film scene.
Dominic Monaghan, Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd and Sean Astin star as hobbits in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." (Everett Collection)

Following the death of Lord of the Rings actor Bernard Hill on May 5, fellow castmates and longtime friends from the J.R.R. Tolkien movie trilogy bid farewell to their King Théoden in a touching public tribute.

Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Billy Boyd (Peregrin "Pippin" Took), Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck) and Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), who starred as hobbits in the Peter Jackson films, honored Hill onstage at Comic Con Liverpool in England.

“We lost a member of our family this morning,” Astin announced to the audience at the end of their panel discussion. “We just want to take a moment before we walk off the stage to honor him … We love him.”

Hill, who died at the age of 79, portrayed Théoden, King of Rohan and Lord of the Mark, in the 2002 film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and the 2003 film The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

He had been due to speak at Comic Con Liverpool alongside his fellow cast members, but had pulled out of the event the day prior, telling organizers “his partner was ill.”

Since the news broke of Hill’s death, Lord of the Rings stars have taken to social media to share their grief and honor his memory.

The cast’s strong bond has been well documented over the years, from gifted horses to matching tattoos to frequent group reunions.

In honor of wrapping The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, the nine cast members who made up the titular fellowship — Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Astin, Boyd, Viggo Mortensen, Monaghan, Wood, Sean Bean and Brett Beattie (stunt double for John Rhys-Davies) — all had the Elvish word for “nine” tattooed on them.

Jackson also took part in the commemorative experience by getting the Elvish word for “10” tattooed on his arm.

“We felt the experience was both wonderful enough and profound enough to have ourselves branded,” Wood said, “so we went ahead and did that about a week before we finished.”

“It was one of those beautiful moments, where we all felt like we had been through this war, this battle, together in a lot of different ways," Monaghan recalled to Entertainment Weekly. "That really brought together that family feeling."

Mortensen added, “We all got the same one – the word ‘nine’ in Elvish – because that’s what we are, nine.”

Mortensen also cemented his friendship with a Lord of the Rings stunt double, Jane Abbott, when he purchased the character Arwen's horse and gifted it to her.

Since wrapping the films, the cast has frequently been seen together in public, sharing a meal or appearing at speaking engagements.

In addition to remaining friends, the cast have remained co-workers as well.

Boyd and Monaghan have collaborated professionally since wrapping The Lord of the Rings, creating a podcast called The Friendship Onion and starring together in a Canadian revival of the play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

“Billy and I spend time with each other,” Monaghan told Forbes in 2021. “We go on holiday together quite a bit, spend a lot of time with each other, watch sporting events together, have surfed together, have scuba dived together, enjoy each other’s company. Just two people going through life with a lot of similar interests really, isn’t it?”

But it’s not just Merry and Pippin who have remained close friends.

“We all keep in touch,” Monaghan told the outlet. “We’re all on an email chain, so if it’s someone’s birthday … It was Andy Serkis’s birthday recently, Cate Blanchett’s birthday recently. We all kind of said hello, sent love, maybe you find an old photo, ‘Oh, check this out! Merry Christmas!’ We’ll do those things.”