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Monday 17th December, 2001 - 12:00 GMT
The Bernard Hill interview
Bernard Hill as Theoden in Lord of The Rings.
Bernard Hill as Theoden in Lord of The Rings

Bernard Hill stars in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings as Theoden, King of Rohan.

He recently achieved international recognition as the Captain in James Cameron's Titanic.


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Have you seen Lord of The Rings? What did you think?

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LOTR film preview

Bernard first came to public attention as Yosser Hughes in the critically acclaimed television series Boys from the Black Stuff.

Here he talks about Hollywood, Clint Eastwood and life in Suffolk.

Lord of the Rings has been hailed as a once in a generation epic of film to change the course of cinema. Is that how you see it? Do you believe all that hype?

Yes, I subscribe to that very much. I don’t think there’d be many film production companies brave enough like Newline to do a big project like this containing three films.

The initial outlay was quite phenomenal really and obviously the gamble was that the first one had to work to make all the money back because if the first film didn’t work then people wouldn’t go and see the second or the third, so a lot was hanging on the first film.

I don’t think they’ve got anything to worry about at all, just the opposite really from what I’ve seen.
Monday night (the premiere) just kind of satisfied all our expectations, it was wonderful.

It’s very unusual - perhaps unheard of - to do a trilogy like that back to back.

Yes, it’s never been done before. Obviously with the Star Wars project, the concept was to do six to begin with, but they only ever did them one at a time. And there was a long time between the first and the second one, something like two years I think.
And Superman and all the other kind of part one and part two films, usually the second episode would have come off the back of the first.

With such a classic book, you really had to treat it as one project. And it just made complete sense to do all three at once.

Is it a book that you were familiar with? Did you know the Lord of the Rings?

I've got a copy of it from 1977 for my birthday that I used as my reference.

I can’t own up to having read it all, it is a bit of a heavy read, but I read the second and third books when I heard that we were going to do this.

The first book kind of twists and turns so much, it’s much more whimsical than the other two. I thought I’ll read the script and get some background from the script for (film) one, but as far as my character was concerned there’s not really that much info in one at all.

Ian McKellen as Gandalf in Lord of The Rings.
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in Lord of The Rings

Tell us about your character.

I play Theoden, King of Rohan.

When they come across him in his castle, he’s under the influence of Wormtongue who’s in the pay of Saruman who's been poisoning Theoden. Theoden is possessed by Saruman who’s Sauron's underlord, by that time arch enemy of Gandalf because they’re kind of equal wizards.

In film one there’s a wonderful battle scene, a classic confrontation between two wizards, it’s just breathtaking that sequence.

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