Actor, singer, author and exceptional human; the world has lost one of its most valuable treasures in Sir Christopher Lee.
Baptized by the internet as the “actual most interesting man in the world”, Christopher Lee did a bit of everything, and I mean everything. From various monsters to the most famous detective of all, his talent went beyond the big screen, making the jump to the music world in the most fantastic way.
There are many things to be said about his extraordinary career and life, but as that would take hours, let’s take a look at the highlights of his work.
Before his acting career started, Christopher Lee served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War II, where he was mentioned in dispatches. It was when he came back from war that his acting career started and never stopped.
His film debut came with Corridor of Mirrors (1947), where he had only one line (“a satirical shaft meant to qualify the lead’s bravura”). After that came several supporting roles, and it was until the late 50s that he started gaining fame.
In 1957, he played the creature in Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein. This was the beginning of his legendary career as iconic monsters and creatures, including the Mummy (1959) and most famously, count Dracula.
Although his work as Dracula gave him fame and recognition, he didn’t want to be typecast, so he went for other type of roles.
His personal favorite was that of Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (1973), and in 1974 he finally got to play a Bond villain. Ian Fleming was Lee’s step-cousin, and offered him the villainous role in Dr. No but by the time Fleming told the producers, they had already cast Joseph Wiseman.
Lee played assassin Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, with Roger Moore as 007. He was already building up his legend status.
His first American film was Airport ‘77, he worked with Steven Spielberg in 1941 and appeared in the musical comedy The Return of Captain Invincible. He had his ups and downs, but let’s fast forward to 1999.
Christopher Lee was one of Tim Burton’s frequent collaborators, and they worked together in five movies, the first one being Sleepy Hollow (1999), where he played Burgomaster. Then came Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), as Willy Wonka’s father, Dr. Wilbur Wonka; Corpse Bride, where he voiced Pastor Galswells; Alice in Wonderland, lending his voice to the Jabberwocky; and Dark Shadows, playing Silas Clarney.
But he certainly won the hearts of a new generation with his role of Saruman the White in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Just when you thought he couldn’t reach more levels of epicness after playing Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, a Bond villain and Saruman, he went to a galaxy far, far away to play Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
His last movie was Angels in Notting Hill, to be released this year. Here he plays a godly figure who looks after the universe. Quite fitting, if you ask me.
What made Christopher Lee even more interesting, extraordinary and badass, was his music career.
Honestly, how many actors can say they had a successful run in the world of heavy metal?
His first metal album, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, was released in 2010, and was very well received both by critics and the heavy metal community. He was even awarded with the “Spirit of Metal” award at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony.
He released an EP of heavy metal covers of Christmas classics, called A Heavy Metal Christmas (2012) and his second album, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, came out in 2013.
He was a nazi hunter, he made his way through the cinematic and music world successfully, he met J.R.R Tolkien (making him the only person involved in the LOTR trilogy to have done so), he spoke several languages and won the hearts and respect of generations. For that and much more, we are already missing you terribly, Sir Christopher Lee.
My love and admiration for certain outstanding humans makes me want them to be immortal, and Christopher Lee was on top of the list. I guess the universe didn’t share that idea.
He was my Lord of all things dark and awesome, and I truly doubt we will ever have someone as intelligent, talented, brave and passionate as he was.
Dear Christopher Lee,
Legends never die. I guess you truly are immortal after all. Thank you for your greatness. We will make sure no one forgets your outstanding life.
You can follow Adrienne on Twitter at @AdrienneTyler.