RIP Christopher Lee (1922 – 2015)
James R | On 11, Jun 2015
“Sleep well, Mr. Harker,” said Christopher Lee in the guise of Count Dracula back in 1958. Seductive, scary and emminently polite, he was every bit the gentleman vampire of your sleepless nights. If any actor was going to live ever, it was surely going to be him.
57 years later, the horror icon has passed away.
It was only natural that his caped turn would spawn several sequels for Hammer, establishing the actor as a living legend. Over the years, though, Lee proved his Count to be one of countless studies of villainy for the screen. He brought class to Sir Henry Baskerville and suave to Lord Summerisle, a monstrous ringleader who managed the impossible task of making a yellow polo neck jumper scary.
One year after The Wicker Man, Lee’s charisma put him face to face with the most charismatic hero the silver screen had to offer: James Bond. 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun emerged as one of the worst in the 007 canon, but it was testament to Lee’s skill that he remains one of the franchise’s most memorable bad guys.
For most, that would be enough to merit a place in audience memories, but Lee continued for decades to come, winning a new generation of fans with his turns as the calculating Count Dooku in Star Wars and the sonorous Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. In between stealing scenes, he even found the time to turn his signature booming voice to recording a Christmas-themed heavy metal album.
In June 2015, as he was treated for respiratory problems in London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Lee was already looking forward to another role in ensemble drama The 11th. Up until the age of 93, this was a man who simply never stopped. Only last year, he could be seen kung fu fighting with a stick in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
It is hard to say which is the greater testament to his final resting place in cinema history: the fact that he succeeded in bringing gravitas to both Roger Moore’s Bond and George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, or the fact that even now, it’s impossible to believe that the definitive Count Dracula will really stay still for long. This unliving legend was always at his best when lingering in your nightmares. Sleep well, Mr. Lee.
Christopher Lee films available on Netflix UK
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Hound of the Baskevilles
Season of the Witch
Christopher Lee films available on Amazon Prime
The Blood of Fu Manchu
The Silent Flute
Christopher Lee films available on NOW
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring