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Sir Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure.
Christopher Lee: an actor of muscular intelligence with a staggering career
The veteran actor, best known for a variety of films from Dracula to The Wicker Man through to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, passed away on Sunday morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, according to sources.
The decision to release the news days after was based on his wife’s desire to inform family members first. The couple had been married for over 50 years.
As well as his career in film, Lee also released a series of heavy metal albums, including Charlemagne: The Omens of Death. He was knighted in 2009 for services to drama and charity and was awarded the Bafta fellowship in 2011.
His film career started in 1947 with a role in gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors but it wasn’t until the late 50s, when Lee worked with Hammer, that he started gaining fame. His first role with the studio was The Curse of Frankenstein and it was the first of 20 films that he made with Peter Cushing, who also became a close friend. “Hammer was an important part of my life, and generally speaking, we all had a lot of fun,” he said in a 2001 interview.
Lee’s most famous role for Hammer was playing Dracula, a role which became one of his most widely recognised although the actor wasn’t pleased with how the character was treated. “They gave me nothing to do!” he told Total Film in 2005. “I pleaded with Hammer to let me use some of the lines that Bram Stoker had written. Occasionally, I sneaked one in. Eventually I told them that I wasn’t going to play Dracula any more. All hell broke loose.”
In the 70s, Lee continued to gain fame in the horror genre with a role in The Wicker Man, a film which he considered to be his best. “Wonderful film... had a hell of a time getting it made,” he said. “Its power lies in the fact that you never expect what eventually happens, because everyone is so nice.” He went on to play a Bond villain in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun and turned down a role in Halloween, which he later said was one of biggest career regrets. In his career, he also turned down a role in Airplane!, something he also regretted.
His concern over being typecast in horror films led him to Hollywood and roles in Airport ‘77 and Steven Spielberg’s 1941. His career saw a resurgence in 2001 with a role as Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and then as Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
He also became a regular collaborator with Tim Burton, who cast him in Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows. Burton went on to award him with a Bafta fellowship.
The trailer of the 1958 film The Horror of Dracula starring Christopher Lee
In 2011, he returned to Hammer with a role in the Hilary Swank thriller The Resident although he generally tried to avoid the horror genre in later years. “There have been some absolutely ghastly films recently, physically repellent,” he said. “What we did was fantasy, fairy tales - no real person can copy what we did. But they can do what Hannibal Lecter does, if they’re so inclined, people like Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Nilsen, and for that reason, I think such films are dangerous.”
After dabbling with music throughout much of his career, including a song on The Wicker Man soundtrack, Lee released his first full-length album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross in 2010. It was well-received by the heavy metal community and won him the spirit of metal award at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony.
His 2013 single Jingle Hell entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 22, which made him the oldest living artist to ever enter the charts.
Lee still has one film yet to be released, the fantasy film Angels in Notting Hill, where he plays a godly figure who looks after the universe. He was also set to star in 9/11 drama The 11th opposite Uma Thurman but it’s believed that the film hadn’t yet started production.
In an interview in 2013, Lee spoke about his love of acting. “Making films has never just been a job to me, it is my life,” he said. “I have some interests outside of acting – I sing and I’ve written books, for instance – but acting is what keeps me going, it’s what I do, it gives life purpose.”
For me, Halloween has always been about two things – choking down so much goddamned candy that my intestines harden into a supersaturated congealed sugar sausage, and hanging out on the couch with a pretty girl and a bag of fun-sized Mega Caramel Deluxe Choco-Bomb Diabetes Bars watching Dracula movies and waiting/praying for the opportunity to run outside and blast the punk kids in my neighborhood in the face with either a fire hose or an Airsoft rifle. I may be alone in this, seeing as how for some inexplicable reason apparently nobody else on the planet seems to be even a little bit burned out on goddamned zombies yet (yes, I got really into them from 2004, when I saw the remake of Dawn of the Dead, but the zombie genre peaked with World War Z in 2006 and I haven't given a shit about them since), but for me it just does not get any better than the original gangsta of flesh-ripping, babeage-macking vampires running around in a crypt being creepy as fuck and spraying around more carotid arterial blood spray than Maximilien Robespierre with a gas-powered chainsaw and supreme uncontested judicial power over the Revolutionary Tribunal (am I right here, all you 18th-century French Revolution buffs? Hello? This thing on?).
And, to that end, Christopher Frank Carandini Mothafuckin' Lee WAS Dracula. He played the bloodsucking impaling-happy non-sparkling Wallachian Count in the most perfect Dracula movie ever made, Horror of Dracula, then reprised the role in seven sequels over the next 15 years – giving an entire generation of humanity nightmares for life, coating himself in a swimming pool's worth of fake movie blood, and somehow managing to constantly surround himself with ridiculous concentrations of hot babes with twin puncture wounds on the sides of their necks and borderline-pornographic amounts of blood-stained cleavage.
He's also a 6'5" tall world champion fencer, speaks six languages, does all of his own stunts, has participated in more on-screen sword fights than any actor in history, served for five years defending democracy from global fascism as a British Commando blowing the shit out of Nazi asses in World War II, and became the oldest person to ever record lead vocals on a heavy metal track when, at the age of 88, he wrote, performed on, and released a progressive symphonic power metal EP about the life of Charlemagne (because why the fuck not?).
The most prolific actor in motion picture history, Christopher Lee was born somewhere in England in 1922. His mother was an Italian Countess who was actually descended from the line of Charlemagne, and she was so important that she was allowed to wear the royal seal of Frederich Barbarossa and so MILF-y she had her portrait painted by something like a half-dozen famous Italian artists. One of Lee's ancestors on that side was the Papal Secretary of State who refused to attend the coronation of Napoleon and is buried in the Pantheon in Rome next to Raphael (the painter not the ninja turtle), which seems like kind of a big deal. Lee's father, meanwhile, was a distant relative of Robert E. Lee and was multi-decorated war hero who'd served as a Colonel in the 60th King's Royal Rifle Corps during World War I and the Boer War. Growing up, Lee studied Classics at Wellington College, where he was also a champion squash player, a ridiculously-badass fencer, and spent his spare time playing on the school hockey and rugby. After college, Lee took a bullshit job working as an office clerk (that's a Classics major for you), where his pay was one pound a week – and by one pound a week I think it means his entire compensation for busting his ass 8 hours a day was that every Friday around 4:30 a really cool guy would walk by, fist bump him, and say something like, "Hey, nice job man! Hang in there bro!"
Shit got real in 1939 when Christopher Lee quit his day job, caught a boat to Finland, and decided to enlist in the Finnish Army to help them fight off the Soviet invasion of Finland. Lee got geared up to kick some commie asses up and down the frozen wastes of mid-Winter Finland, but didn't see much action, returning home in 1940 to deal with a much bigger and more England-centric problem: Nazis.
Christopher Lee enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940, where he worked as an intelligence officer specializing in cracking German ciphers and skulls and any other Nazi bullshit he came in contact with. In North Africa he was attached to the Long Range Desert Patrol, the forerunner of the SAS, where he would jump in a badass fucking four-wheel-drive jeep with a gigantic machine gun mounted in the back, drive hundreds of miles behind enemy lines, survive the scorching heat of the Sahara Desert, then sneak-attack Luftwaffe airfields by rolling up on them at sixty miles an hour with his .50-caliber machine guns blazing out curtains of white-hot Nazi-smiting justice, planting dynamite on their airplanes, then peeling ass out of there leaving nothing but bullet-riddled corpses and gigantic explosions in his wake. After working with the LRDP, Lee was assigned to the Special Operations Executive – better known as Winston Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare – a group that did shit like lead a twelve-man assault that destroyed the German top secret nuclear weapons development facility in Norway and assist brave Eastern European partisans and rebels sabotage Nazi supply lines to prevent them from bringing reinforcements up to fight the Soviets. His service records are sealed and Lee doesn't talk much about his service (when pressed on the subject, he reportedly asks his interviewer, "Can you keep a secret?". When they excitedly say yes, he leans in close and says, "So can I."), but we do know that by the time he retired as a Flight Lieutenant in 1945 he'd been personally decorated for battlefield bravery by the Czech, Yugoslavian, English, and Polish governments and was good friends with Josip Broz Tito, so draw your own conclusions.
Christopher Lee went into acting in 1948, before myself and roughly 95% of my readership was born, and persevered through a tough 10-year stretch of bit parts and minor roles. He finally got a big break in 1957, when he got paid $1,300 to play Frankenstein's Monster for Hammer Films – a part he easily earned if for no other reason than just because at six foot five he was – and still is! – the tallest actor in Hollywood. He took the Dracula role the next year, spent the next decade ingesting gallons of fake blood (probably preferable to wading through knee-deep piles of real-life dead Germans while Nazi tanks fire 88mm cannons and spray machine gun bullets at you), and his career kind of blew up from there.
In addition to his iconic, definitive role as Dracula, Christopher Lee has also portrayed some of the most memorable villains of all time. Sure, everyone knows him as Sauroman the White from Lord of the Hobbits: Return to Fellowship Towers and Darth Tyranus from those otherwise-terrible Star Wars prequels (which is notable in itself because Tyranus was supposed to have been Qui-Gon's mentor, and Liam Neeson, between being Zeus, Aslan, Hannibal, Qui-Gon, Ducard, Oskar Schindler, and your dad in Fallout 3 is basically the mentor character in every work of fiction since 1993), but for my money it doesn't get any better than when he played the ultimate Bond Villain in The Man with The Golden Gun -- a role he got thanks in no small part to the fact that Bond creator Ian Fleming was not only Lee's cousin, but the two men had fought together in the SOE during WWII. So Lee was basically part of the team that inspired James Bond, then he went on to play a fucking Bond Villain who lives on an island surrounded by hot babes and Tattoo from Fantasy Island, drives a car that turns into an airplane, uses renewable solar energy to try and destroy the world, and revolutionizes the badassitude of carrying pimped-out firearms. So Awesome.
I won't get too much into it, but Christopher Lee has basically been in every movie ever, from billion-dollar Academy Award winners to the sort of shit that Elvira pimps on Channel 875 at four in the morning on a Tuesday. He's almost always the villain, and as such has probably died on camera more times than anyone ever. He's been Fu Manchu five times. He was the definitive Count de Rochefort in a couple Three Musketeers movies. He's been The Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster, Willy Wonka's Dad, the Emperor of China, the Grim Reaper, Lucifer, Grigory Rasputin, Charles Marlow, Ramses, Tiresias the Blind Prophet of Thebes, Vlad the Impaler, one role where he's simply credited as "Ship's Vampire", and another where he's "Resurrection Joe." He's hosted SNL and been in Police Academy, the Last Unicorn, Charlie's Angels, Season of the Witch, Gremlins II, a Polish Tales from the Crypt-style TV series and a softcore porn based on the works of Marquis de Sade, but he was also in Lord of the Rings, Shaka Zulu, A Tale of Two Cities, The Wicker Man, Moby-Dick and the Hamlet with Lawrence Olivier. He's worked with Peter Cushing, Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston, Errol Flynn, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Spielberg, Orson Welles, Vincent Price, Christopher Walken, Sam Eliot, Jeff Bridges and Jayne Mansfield, but also Nicholas Cage, Heather Graham, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tom Arnold, Casper Van Dien and Armand Assante, and he once appeared in a movie called "Howling II: Werewolf Bitch" with the dude from Space Mutiny.
He's the only person to play both Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (he was also Sir Henry Baskerville). His characters have executed both Charles the First of England and Louis the Sixteenth of France (and, as a badass side note, Lee is so into the idea of public executions that in real life he can recite every official executioner in England since the 15th century). He's portrayed Englishmen, Egyptians, Spaniards, Transylvanians, Frenchmen, Greeks, Poles, Chinese, Indians, Italians, Wallachians, Romans, Germans, Arabs, Gypsies, and Russians, played the lead role in the biography of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, speaks English, German, Russian, Swedish, Italian, and French, can do any English accent he wants, and sings everything from opera and death metal in a hardcore bass voice. IMDB credits him with 274 acting roles, Guiness says he's appeared in more films than anyone ever, and the Oracle of Bacon lists him as the Center of the Hollywood Universe because anyone in history links to him in 2.59 steps (he links to Bacon in 1). If that's not enough, Lee's movies have grossed more than any actor ever – his top five alone grossed $4.4B (number two is Harrison ford with $3B) and that doesn't even include the new Hobbit stuff and whatever the fuck else he's got in the works. He's such a veteran pro that he filmed every single scene in Star Wars 3 in a single day, and even though he's never received a Best Actor nomination he's been in 4 movies nominated for Best Picture and he can rest assured that even the shittiest movie of his career is probably a fuck of a lot more entertaining than The English Patient.
He's also developed something of a reputation for being a dick to fans and for having a seething contemptuous disdain for fajitas, which makes him even more badass in some ways.
Lee also belongs to three stuntman unions, does all of his own stunts, once busted his face smashing head-first through an actual plate glass window for a scene, injured himself falling into an open grave while portraying Dracula, and once had his hand slashed open during a drunken sword fight with Errol Flynn.
Oh, and while we're on the subject of swordfights, Lee has appeared in more on-screen sword duels than any other actor ever. A masterful fencer, he's been in everything from cutlass fights on the decks of waterlogged pirate ships to rapier duels in seventeenth-century France to taking on a couple guys one-third of his age with a lightsabers and a fistful of force lightning on the deck of whatever the fuck they called Imperial Star Destroyers in the prequel movies.
A classically trained singer, Christopher Lee also released a heavy metal hardcore symphonic power metal concept album about Charlemagne when he was 88 years old. He's played with Rhapsody and Manowar, and on his 90th birthday he released a metal single called "Let Legend Mark Me as the King" with music written by some of the guys from Judas Priest.
No, I am not joking about this. I am actually streaming a track about Pepin the Short off his MySpace page as I type and it's actually pretty good.
Christopher Lee is also a master golfer who once played with Jack Nicklaus and is the only actor to be a member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the most prestigious country club in the world. He's been married to the same Danish supermodel for 44 years, is the Commander of the Order of St. John's of Jerusalem, a Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire, and once received a medal from Mikael Gorbachev.
When some people die you feel like they had more to offer this world but Lee's 93 years on this Earth were lived to the absolute fullest, outlived his best friends and was the only member of the Lord of the Rings cast or crew to have actually met Tolkien. Beyond his ability to speak English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Russian and Greek with some Mandarin he sung and acted it many of those languages as well. I actually prefer the Italian version of The Magic of the Wizard's Dream. Quite a guy.
__________________ nabs -Brianrietta are you trying to Mindbomber me? using big words to try to confuse me jasonturbo -Threesomes: overrated - I didn't really think it was anything special, plus it was degrading, marching to the bathroom to fart all that semen out Babykiller -And next to that, there's a little dot called a period. It's not the stuff you eat out of your sisters gash, it's a handy little tool for breaking up sentences so they don't look like nonsensical retard garbage.
Last edited by Brianrietta; 06-12-2015 at 02:30 AM.