Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, better known as Christopher Lee Born on May 27, 1922 in Belgravia, London, England and died on June 7, 2015 in London, an English actor known for his film portrayals of villains ranging from Dracula to JRR Saruman, the wizard of The Lord of the rings.
Lee was born to an Italian Countess and an officer in the British Army. After a stint at Wellington College (1936–39), he joined the Royal Air Force (1941–46), achieving the rank of flight lieutenant during his service in World War II.
Christopher Lee He then pursued an acting career. Although initially fired by casting directors because of his imposing 6-foot-5-inch (1.96-meter) height, he was ultimately cast in Corridor of Mirrors (1948).
Christopher Lee in 1957 came to fame
In 1957 came the fame for Christopher Lee numerous supporting roles followed, but it wasn’t until he starred in the monstrous creation of the main character in The curse of Frankenstein what Lee began to attract attention.
That role inaugurated an extended relationship with Hammer Films, a production company that, with the help of Lee and his frequent co-star Peter Cushing, was credited with revolutionizing horror movie making.
Although his long body and cadaverous features proved unsuitable for romantic roles, Lee perfectly embodied such iconic horror characters as the Count. Dracula, whom he played for the first time in Horror of Dracula (1958) and then repeated in several sequels that also compared him to Bela Lugosi, the supreme Dracula.
However, Christopher Lee’s turn as Sir Henry Baskerville in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes mystery, indicated a dramatic range that extends beyond the imitation of reanimated corpses.
While cementing his place in the pantheon of film Dracula, Lee became the catalyst for another film franchise with the release of The Face of Fu Manchu (1965). In that movie and its aftermath, he radiated threat as the devious title character.
Terror and suspense was his strong suit
The actor triumphed in terror for his distinctive demeanor, which continued to secure him roles in such films as The Wicker Man (1973), in which he played a pagan priest; The Three Musketeers (1973) and its 1974 sequel, in which he played the role of Count Rochefort; and the movie of James Bond The Man with the Golden Revolver (1974), in which he played Bond’s nemesis, Scaramanga.
Appearances in a steady stream of unimportant movies were punctuated by a welcome twist like Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in Jinnah (1998).
Saruman in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
Christopher Lee appeared as Saruman later in Peter Jackson’s lucrative adaptation of JRR’s The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, the great creator of fantastic universes, playing the magician Saruman in The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Two Towers (2002).
He reprized the role in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), both based on earlier work by Tolkien.
His imminent presence caught the attention of director George Lucas, who cast him as Count Dooku in the Star Wars films Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005).
In addition, Christopher Lee participated in several Tim Burton films, including Alice in Wonderland (2010), and in Martin Scorsese’s historical fantasy Hugo (2011).
Top 10 Christopher Lee movies
It is difficult to choose the best films of the famous actor with a filmography of 281 titles. Sir Christopher Lee’s career is as imposing as it is labyrinthine.
The British actor made his debut in 1948, and he continued to make us enjoy with his talent, his presence and his booming voice until practically the last day of his life.
Upon his death in 2015, Lee left a long list of works from action, fantasy and, above all, horror films.
- The Curse of Frankenstein – 1957
- Dracula – 1958
- The Dog of Baskervilles – 1959
- Vampire Cuadecuc – 1971
- The Wicker Man – 1973
- The Man with the Golden Gun – 1974
- The Last Unicorn – 1982
- The Lord of the Rings – 2001 – 2003
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – 2003
- The Color of Magic – 2008
Lee declared himself a fan of Tolkien
Lee recognized to be a great admirer of all the work of Tolkien, who died 48 years ago, to the point of having read once a year The Lord of the Rings, a book in which he assures that “something new is always discovered.” When production on the film began, it was clear to Peter Jackson that Lee would play one of the magicians.
The actor recognized that one of his dreams was to play Gandalf, but that his age prevented him from giving the role all the necessary strength. Instead he accepted the role of Saruman, who did not require him to shoot scenes riding on horseback and fighting, since the character participates in a single fight scene, precisely against Gandalf.
One of the major licenses of the film’s script with respect to the book is precisely in the end of Saruman the White. In the version released in theaters Saruman does not appear in the third film, and it is said that he is forever locked in his fortress; in the extended version he is killed by Gríma, after being defeated by Gandalf in a scene titled “The voice of Saruman.”
Neither of these two endings corresponds to the novel, since in the books Saruman escapes from Orthanc and travels to the Shire, the land of the hobbits, which he will raze before he dies. Due to the suppression of these scenes, in numerous forums of fans of the trilogy it was said that Lee and Jackson had ended up facing each other.
However, when the filming of the adaptation of The Hobbit, a work preceding The Lord of the Rings, was announced in 2007, Lee volunteered to bring Saruman back to life and recreate his fall from good to evil, although the actor himself He acknowledged that he might not be able to play that role, due to his advanced age that would not allow him a trip to New Zealand, where the film was shot. In return he offered to give voice to the dragon Smaug. However, finally, required by the fans, by Jackson and by the production company, he decided to return to interpret the istari, although he shot all his scenes at the Pinewood studios in London.
Christopher Lee’s marriage and family
Lee was married to Danish model Birgit Kroencke (also known as Gitte Lee) since 1961, who had worked for Balenciaga, Chanel, and Christian Dior. They had a daughter named Christina Erika Lee, born in Switzerland on November 23, 1963.
Lee was the cousin of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy novels, and actress Harriet Walter is his niece.
Lee was a heavy metal singer?
Lee’s relationship with heavy metal began with his appearance on the cover of Wings’ Band on the Run, released on October 28, 1973.
It includes Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney and Denny Laine as components of Wings, as well as six other celebrities, all dressed as convicts and taken by surprise by a prison surveillance focus.
His musical career as a soloist was late. The actor has stated:
“I have carried metal in my veins for many years, what happens is that I did not know.”
- “Let Legend Mark Me as the King” (2012)
- “The Ultimate Sacrifice” (2012)
- “Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing” (2014)
How did Christopher Lee die?
On Sunday June 7, 2015, Christopher Lee died at Westminster Hospital, in the London borough of Chelsea, a center where he had entered three weeks earlier and where he had turned 93, after suffering respiratory problems and heart failure.
His wife decided to delay the public announcement of her husband’s death until Thursday the 11th to first notify the actor’s closest family and friends.
Christopher was not the only one who has died of the Lord of The Rings saga, in 2020, we also say goodbye to Ian Holm, a star who died at 88 years old and who played Bilbo Baggins in the aforementioned saga.