"It's like losing a friend": The Lord of the Rings fans and and film stars pay tribute Manchester actor Bernard Hill

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill -Credit:Getty Images

Tributes have flooded in from fans and colleagues across film and television for Manchester-born actor Bernard Hill, who has died aged 79. He was best known for his roles in Oscar-winning films Titanic and Lord of the Rings, with fans describing his loss as like ‘losing a friend’.

Hill’s breakout role was starring as Liverpudlian Yosser Hughes in the TV drama Boys from the Blackstuff in 1979. He later impressed critics with his performance as Joe Bradshaw in Shirley Valentine in 1989.

His agent Lou Coulson told BBC News that Hill had died in the early hours of Sunday morning. Hill had been due to attend the Liverpool Comic Con this weekend but he cancelled at the last minute.

READ MORE: Manchester-born Titanic and Lord of the Rings actor Bernard Hill dies aged 79

Comic Con Liverpool issued a statement on X, saying: “We’re heartbroken to hear the news of Bernard Hill’s passing. A great loss. Thinking of his family at this very sad time, and wishing them a lot of strength.”

Bernard Hill has died aged 79
Bernard Hill has died aged 79 -Credit:Getty Images

The actor was expected to make a return to our TV screens on Sunday evening in series two of The Responder, which also stars Martin Freeman. Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, said: "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.

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

Peep Show actor and Phoenix Nights writer Neil Fitzmaurice shared a tribute to Hill on X. He wrote: "Sad news of the passing of Bernard Hill. We got him for Going Off Big Time. He’d just finished Titanic and was now getting changed behind a curtain but he loved it.

Bernard Hill, John Rhys-Davies and Viggo Mortensen pose at the premiere of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" held on December 3, 2003 at the Village Theater, in Los Angeles
Bernard Hill, John Rhys-Davies and Viggo Mortensen pose at the premiere of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" held on December 3, 2003 at the Village Theater, in Los Angeles -Credit:Getty Images

“Said it reminded him of what the work was all about! I was in his trailer one day, he finished a call….…I said ‘ anything decent?’ ‘Yeah’ he said ‘I’m doing Lord of The Rings after this’ ! I learnt a lot from him. A wonderful actor! RIP Bernard Hill."

Actor and stunt double Kiran Shah called him a ‘true gent’ and recalled working with Hill. He said: “I worked with #BernardHill on #Titanic and #LOTR. It was on LOTR we got to know each other well. I had fun working with Bernard. True gent and a wonderful actor. #RIP Condolences to his family. He will be missed.”

Lord of the Rings fans have also paid tribute to the actor, with many praising his acting abilities. @linuskarp said: “Growing up I watched LOTR (and all the bonus features) every day, so when someone involved dies it feels like I'm losing a friend. Bernard Hill gave such a beautiful, nuanced and human performance in the trilogy, making the fantasy world seem so real. Rest in Peace.”

@JenKtn added: “So many of the LOTR characters are great in the books but for me he was the actor that most elevated their character in the movie series. He made Théoden the story’s emotional anchor in an all time performance. RIP”

@BaySean wrote: “RIP Bernard Hill. Thank you for absolutely carrying some of the most fire battle scenes in cinema history. LOTR legend.”

Others shared their thoughts on his breakout role in Boys from the Blackstuff. @geejonnie wrote: “His performance in Boys from the Black Stuff was just outstanding. I cried with anger. It summed up 80’s Britain!!!!!!!

RIP Bernard Hill” @SteveLongstaffe said: “I saw Black Stuff on the big screen at uni in 1982 and will never forget the room cheering for Yosser as he took on the police. But Bernard Hill's delivery of the 'desperate Dan' line at the end of this compilation is his finest hour. RIP.”

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