Christopher Lee (1922-2015)
Sir Christopher Lee has passed away at the age of 93. He was best known for portraying Dracula in the Hammer Horror films, Saruman in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels, but he also sang and did charitable work. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The story of Sir Christopher Lee can be summed up in one word: fascinating. Even the people he knew or were related to were fascinating. (For example, Ian Fleming became a cousin by marriage and Robert E. Lee was a distant relative.) Look what a charmed life he lived – loooooook!
One night, he was introduced to Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the assassins of Grigori Rasputin, whom Lee was to play many years later.
You see what I mean? And he played a James Bond villain in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Christopher Lee stood six feet, five inches high, spoke six languages, did all his own stunts (when possible) and was an amazing fencer. Also, if you’re wondering where Ian Fleming got the idea for James Bond, well…
“I was attached to the SAS from time to time but we are forbidden – former, present, or future – to discuss any specific operations. Let’s just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read into that what they like.”
So, if you think that’s a thin connection, there’s stories like this:
Filming a scene in Return of the King (seen only in the extended version), when Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif) stabs Saruman in the back on top of the tower, Christopher Lee corrected Peter Jackson on the fact that when a person is stabbed in the back of the chest, they do not scream (as the director wanted), in fact the air is pushed out of their lungs and they “groan” with an exhalation of air, very quietly, as their lungs have been punctured.
Peter Jackson: ‘Peter, have you ever heard the sound a man makes when he’s stabbed in the back?’ And I said, ‘Um, no.’ And he says ‘Well, I have, and I know what to do.’
Yeah, you know stuff like that when you’re James Bond. When interviewers press him about his military service, Lee was once heard to respond, “Can you keep a secret?” and when the reporter responded that he could, Lee replied, “So can I.” Until those records are unsealed, we’ll never know the details for sure, but you don’t receive battlefield bravery decorations from the Czech, Yugoslavian, English, and Polish governments because you spent the war peeling potatoes.
Sir Christopher Lee is dead – we shall never see his like again.