Christopher Lee (1922-2015)
“There are many vampires in the world today… you only have to think of the film business.”
The world lost a great villain this week. Usually when a bad guy passes on we celebrate but not now. Sir Christopher Lee was probably THE best villainous actor in history. He barely played a heroic character and the only one I can think of was Sherlock Holmes. When he played a “normal” fellow like a father or say, scientist he was still a nefarious or scary type. He was in over 200 films and known more for his horror roles he was known to dabble in other genres as well. I remember laughing fondly at his Gremlins 2 scientist role because even though he was in a comedy, he played it straight and it worked perfectly.
Bela Lugosi is Dracula and was proudly buried with the black vampire cape but Lee was Dracula more than any other actor, playing him in seven Hammer films productions (eight if you count a German-produced one). Truth be told, Lee was more or less blackmailed in playing the role so often but you’d never know that from watching the films. A constant professional, he played the part like it was written by Shakespeare each and every time making the role iconically his. He has also played The Mummy and Frankenstein’s Monster and the latter role being one of the very best in my opinion.
Continuing on in his evil roles, The Wicker Man is probably the creepiest and most psychologically terrifying to me. One of the best chilling horror films, Lee’s Lord Summerisle is also his personal favorite role. He also famously played a Bond villain in The Man With the Golden Gun. I could go on and on how great of a evildoer he was but I will end with saying how much more awesome were the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit because Lee was Saruman? Hell, even his small part in the final two Star Wars prequels were decent enough. Again, his professionalism and stature as a great character actor helped considerably. He was one of a kind and I hate to say there’s really no one who can imitate his diabolicalness. It’s a testament to his accomplished career that he was still working steadily still at the age of 93!
He lived a long and good life and we can bask in the glow of his revered and successful career whether it be his older Hammer horror films or to the younger viewers, his Lord of the Rings and Tim Burton roles of late. I, for one, enjoyed his work dearly, especially his older Hammer films with his pal Peter Cushing. If there is a heaven, I hope those two are terrifying the angels and saints.