Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

Last week, we lost a fine actor with the passing of Sir Christopher Lee.  During his long career, he gave us one outstanding performance after another.  We probably know him best for his villainous roles, from Dracula in the British horror films to Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy to Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films.  And, indeed, that seemed to be his specialty, as evidenced in films ranging from the Disney family film Return to Witch Mountain to the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

Lee began his acting career after serving in World War II.  However, his looks worked against him.  He was very tall and was considered to be too "exotic" looking for movies, so he was usually cast in minor roles.  When he was hired to play Frankenstein’s monster in Hammer Pictures The Curse of Frankenstein, it was the beginning of a long association with the studio.  Lee was then cast as the title character in Dracula and went on to play in four more films as the Count for Hammer Pictures.  It was the start of a career as lead actor.

In time, Lee grew tired of the horror genre and concentrated on other kinds of roles.  However, he often seemed to be cast as the villain, although a stint as host of Saturday Night Live in the 70s led to some comedy films such as 1941 and Serial.  Lee’s career came to a turning point with the role of Saruman in The Lord of the Rings.  A great admirer of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, he was excited to have a role in the trilogy as well as The Hobbit movies.  He also began an association with the director Tim Burton and acted in family films The Golden Compass and Hugo.  Even into his 90s, Lee continued to work.  His last released film was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

To see some of the remarkable work by Christopher Lee, check some of the titles below or click on his highlighted name in the first paragraph.  And to learn more about the man in his own words, read his autobiography Lord of Misrule.

 

The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Dracula films
The Golden Compass
The Hobbit trilogy
Hugo
Julius Caesar
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
The Man with the Golden Gun
Moses
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Resident
Return from Witch Mountain
Season of the Witch
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Sleepy Hollow

 

Flickr: CC          : So many movies          Photo by Mariusz Szczepanik