A tribute to a movie villain: Sir Christopher Lee

“He died? But he was the Dracula, THE Dracula…he can’t die”, said one of my movie gurus this afternoon. “He was one of the best things that happen to our (British) cinema”, he added.

scars-of-dracula-1970-001-christopher-lee-cape-bat-00n-fltSir Christopher Lee, one of the finest British actors of all time has died aged 93 due to respiratory problems. According to the latest reports, before death London-born actor was preparing for his latest film role “The 11th” co-starring Uma Thurman. He still has one film yet to be released, “Angels in Notting Hill” directed by Michael Pakleppa.

“Christopher has been an enormous inspiration to me my entire life. I had the honour and pleasure to work with him on 5 films (Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland & Dark Shadows). He was the last of his kind – a true legend – who I’m fortunate to have called a friend. He will continue to inspire me and I’m sure countless others for generations to come”, said the film director Tim Burton through social media channels.

Often dubbed as the Titan of Cinema, he was born as Christopher Frank Carandini Lee in 1922. He completed studies at Summer Fields in Oxford and Wellington College in Berkshire, where he often appeared in Shakespeare plays. As a member of ‘Charm School’, he made his first screen appearance in the BBC magazine programme “Kaleidoscope” in 1946. He made his film début a year after in Terence Young’s Corridor of Mirrors. In the mid 50s his ruling begins after accepting a call from Hammer Film Productions for the role of the Creature in The Curse of Frankenstein, directed by Terence Fisher and starring next to Peter Cushing (him and Cushing appeared together in over twenty films together).

The “horror acting bug” continued in the next 15 years. Roles included Corridors of Blood (1958), Dracula (1958), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)Uncle Was a Vampire (1959)The City of the Dead (1960)The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), among others. He returned to the role of Dracula in Hammer Film Productions’ Dracula: Prince of Darkness in 1966, and two years later in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave. His last appearance as the (in)famous Dracula was in 1973 in The Satanic Rites of Dracula. 

christopher-lee-golden-gunJust a year after Lee’s acting abilities shined once again when he accepted an assassin role in The Man with the Golden Gun, alongside Sir Roger Moore. One of the greatest ever James Bond villains? Oh yes, without a doubt.

In the most recent cinema history, Lee was a part of big/Oscar-winning projects. The roles included Saruman, the leader of the Istari in all three The Lord of the Rings (2001/2/3),  Star Wars Episode II and II (2002 and 2005) and already mentioned memorable roles in Tim Burton’s finest movies from Sleepy Hollow (1999) to Dark Shadows (2012).

His Honours include a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire “for services to Drama”.He was made a Knight Bachelor “For services to Drama and to Charity” in 2009.

Sir Christopher Lee never retired from acting and appeared in more than 250 movies. He was never nominated for an Oscar. In 2011 he was awarded with an Academy Fellowship award at the BAFTAs.

Personal note: After the announcement of his death earlier today one of the most peculiar things was to see how younger generations kept referring to him as the star of The Lord of the Rings, yet older ones kept reminiscing on Dracula(s) or Francisco Scaramanga (his role in The Man with the Golden Gun).

A conclusion: He was, without a doubt, an actor for all generations.

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