Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy birthday, Bernard Hill

Today is the 66th birthday of Bernard Hill, an actor I always enjoy watching and whose Hollywood career has been noticeably punctuated by a recurring role: A person of authority who reacts stubbornly to news about his grim chances of survival, only to be killed a short time after.

The Ghost and the Darkness

Hill's Dr. Hawthorne, the sole medic for a turn-of-the-century construction crew building a bridge over Africa’s Tsavo River, is told by game hunter Remington that the man-eating lions that have been terrorizing the camp will most likely target his hospital. When Hawthorne questions Remington’s demand that a new hospital be built immediately, Remington insists that a deadly attack will follow otherwise. Despite following Remington's orders, Hawthorne is killed by the lions the following night.


As the captain of the world's largest passenger ship, Hill remains undaunted when warned of dangerous icebergs along his travel route. Instead of using caution, he orders the ship to move faster. Moving too quickly to avoid a deceptively massive block of ice, the ship is torn apart, and the captain perishes in the pilot house as Titanic goes under.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Hill plays King Theoden, the aging ruler of a land besieged by evil forces in The Two Towers. Warned by allies Aragorn and Gimli of his likely defeat by the approaching hoard of Uruk-hai warriors, an indignant Theoden insists his fortress is well-defended. His stronghold is soon overrun, however, and while he narrowly escapes thanks to the last-minute intervention of the wizard Gandalf, Theoden is killed while battling under similar odds in the following film, The Return of the King.


Playing a German general in North Africa during World War II, Hill gets word from Tom Cruise's Colonel von Stauffenberg of impending defeat by Allied forces. Hill's general stubbornly agrees to withdraw, only to be gunned down moments later in a raid by American fighter planes.


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