Whether you know him as the classic old school Dracula of the Hammer Horrors or his more recent roles as Saruman or Count Dooku in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars films, you know that today we have lost a true legend of the screen – Sir Christopher Lee. Join me after the jump to remember this great man.
The award-winning actor, who was knighted in 2009, had a career spanning nearly seventy years. Primarily playing villainous roles, he was Count Dracula for an entire generation. Sir Christopher Lee passed away from complications of heart and respiratory problems that have been plaguing him. He was 93.
The first time I encountered the man, he was playing the unique adversary Scaramanga who hunted James Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun, then I saw his Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (1973), considered by some to be his best (and his own personal favorite), and I was hooked. I would spend the next few years of my childhood getting to know his work on late night TV and Saturday afternoon horror double features via the magic of long lost UHF stations.
Often playing dark to friend and Hammer Horror partner Peter Cushing’s light, Lee was also Fu Manchu, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Mummy, and the Frankenstein monster. For decades, if you wanted a villain, Christopher Lee was your man. And horror was not his only realm in that manner, he even played Lucifer in Sammy Davis Jr.’s lost TV pilot, Poor Devil.
Lee stepped out of film and horror quite often. A recent example would be the last new work I was aware of – his so-appropriate narration of DC Comics’ documentary about super-villains, “Necessary Evil.” He’s also had a career many are unaware of. Besides doing vocals on the soundtrack of The Wicker Man, and playing the villain of the superhero film musical The Return of Captain Invincible, Lee has participated in numerous heavy metal works, winning the prestigious Spirit of Metal award for one of his own albums.
In later years Lee worked in videogames and animation, collaborated with Tim Burton often, and enjoyed a new renaissance of fandom and notoriety. Sir Christopher Lee was and is a star of the stage and the screen, of sound and vision, we have truly lost a legend. What are your favorite memories of the man and his work?