Christopher Lee

English actor and musician Sir Christopher Lee, CBE, CStJ was born 27 May 1922. Lee became famous for his role as Count Dracula in the Hammer Horror films. Other notable roles include Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun , Saruman in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , and Count Dooku in the final two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. He has collaborated with director Tim Burton in five films, most recently with Dark Shadows. He considers his best role to be that of Lord Summerisle in the British cult classic The Wicker Man (1973). Lee is well known for his deep, strong voice and imposing height. He has performed roles in 275 films since 1946 making him the Guinness World Record holder for most film acting roles ever. He was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, and received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011. Lee has also released two epicly noisy heavy metal albums called Charlemagne: by the sword and the omens, and Charlemagne:The omens of Death.

Lee was born in Belgravia, Westminster, on 27th May 1922 and his mother took him and his sister to Switzerland. After enrolling in Miss Fisher’s Academy in Wengen, he played his first villainous role as Rumpelstiltskin. The family returned to London, where Lee attended Wagner’s private school. . Lee spent some time at Summer Fields School, a preparatory school in Oxford (notable for sending many alumni to Eton), where he applied unsuccessfully for a scholarship to Eton.In 1947. Lee made his film debut in Terence Young’s Gothic romance Corridor of Mirrors & was a student at the Rank “charm school” later that year, Lee made an uncredited appearance in Laurence Olivier’s film version of Hamlet as a spear carrier (marking his first film with frequent co-star and close friend Peter Cushing, who played Osric), and in John Huston’s Oscar-nominated Moulin Rouge. Throughout the next decade, he made nearly 30 films, playing stock action characters.Lee’s first horror film was The Curse of Frankenstein, in which he played Frankenstein’s monster, with Cushing as the Baron.

A little later, Lee co-starred with Boris Karloff in the film Corridors of Blood, and Lee’s own appearance as Frankenstein’s monster led to his first appearance as the Transylvanian vampire in the 1958 film Dracula. Lee returned to the role of Dracula in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness in 1965 and later he also starred in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave , Taste the Blood of Dracula and Scars of Dracula. Lee’s other work for Hammer included The Mummy. He portrayed Rasputin in Rasputin, the Mad Monk and Sir Henry Baskerville (to Cushing’s Sherlock Holmes) in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Lee later played Holmes himself in 1962′s Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, and returned to Holmes films with Billy Wilder’s British-made The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, in which he plays Sherlock’s smarter brother, Mycroft. Lee also played a leading role in the German film The Puzzle of the Red Orchid.He was responsible for bringing acclaimed occult author Dennis Wheatley to Hammer. The company made two films from Wheatley’s novels, both starring Lee., The Devil Rides Out and To the Devil a Daughter, Unfortunately though this was Hammer’s last horror film and marked the end of Lee’s long association with the studio. However Lee also appeared in horror films for other companies including the series of Fu Manchu films; I, Monster, The Creeping Flesh and The Wicker Man. In addition to doing films in the United Kingdom, Lee did movies in Mainland Europe including, Count Dracula, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism, Castle of the Living Dead and Horror Express.

Since the mid 1970s, Lee has eschewed horror roles almost entirely. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy novels and Lee’s step-cousin, had offered him the role of the titular antagonist in the first official Bond film Dr. No. Lee enthusiastically accepted, but was unable, until 1974, when Lee finally got to play a James Bond villain – the deadly assassin Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. In 1982, Lee appeared in The Return of Captain Invincible. In 1985, he appeared alongside Reb Brown and Sybil Danning in Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch, and a few years later Lee made his latest appearances to date as Sherlock Holmes in 1991′s Incident at Victoria Falls and 1992′s Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady. Lee and Peter Cushing also both appeared in separate instalments of the Star Wars films, Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in the original film, Lee years later as Count Dooku.Lee was at one point also considered for the role of comic book villain/hero Magneto in the screen adaptation of the popular comic book series X-Men, but he lost the role to Sir Ian McKellen. However Lee did play Saruman in the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy oposite Sir Ian Mckellen (Which I reckon is a much better role). Lee has also met Tolkien once (making him the only person in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy to have done so) and makes a habit of reading the novels at least once a year. Lee’s appearance in the third film was cut from the theatrical release. However, the scene was reinstated in the extended edition. This marked the beginning of a major career revival that continued in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), in which he played Count Dooku, a name allegedly chosen to reflect his fame playing Count Dracula.

Lee is one of the favourite actors of Tim Burton and has become a regular in many of Burton’s films, having now worked for the director five times since 1999. He had a small role as the Burgomaster in the film Sleepy Hollow. In 2005, Lee then went on to voice the character of Pastor Galswells in Corpse Bride co-directed by Burton and Mike Johnson and play a small role in the Burton’s reimagining of the Roald Dahl tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as Willy Wonka’s strict dentist father Dr. Wilbur Wonka. In 2007, Lee collaborated with Burton on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, playing the spirit of Sweeney Todd’s victims called The Gentleman Ghost alongside Anthony Head, with both singing “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”, in 2009, Lee starred in Stephen Poliakoff’s British period drama Glorious 39 with Julie Christie, Bill Nighy, Romola Garai and David Tennant, Academy Award-nominated director Danis Tanović’s war film Triage with Colin Farrell and Paz Vega, and Duncan Ward’s comedy Boogie Woogie alongside Amanda Seyfried, Gillian Anderson, Stellan Skarsgård and Joanna Lumley .In 2010, Lee marked his fourth collaboration with Tim Burton by voicing the Jabberwocky in Burton’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic book Alice in Wonderland alongside Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, and reprised his role as Saruman in The Hobbit. saying he wants to show Saruman’s corruption by Sauron, portraying Saruman as a kind and noble wizard, before his subsequent fall into darkness. In 2012, Lee marked his fifth collaboration with Tim Burton by appearing in his film adaptation of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Lee also reprised his role as Saruman in the video game The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth along with the other actors of the films and has also contributed his voice as Death in the animated versions of Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters and reprised the role in the Sky1 live action adaptation The Colour of Magic, taking over the role from the late Ian Richardson.

During his long and varied career, Lee has recieved many Honours & awards. In 2001, Lee was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2009 by Prince Charles. Lee was named 2005′s ‘most marketable star in the world’ in a USA Today newspaper poll. In 2011, Lee was awarded the BAFTA Academy Fellowship by Tim Burton. In 2011, accompanied by his wife Birgit and on the 164th anniversary of the birth of Bram Stoker (It was the 165th anniversary on the 26th May), Lee was honoured with a tribute by University College Dublin, and described his honorary life membership of the UCD Law Society as “in some ways as special as the Oscars”. He was awarded the Bram Stoker Gold Medal by the Trinity College Philosophical Society, of which Stoker was President, and a copy of Collected Ghost Stories of MR James by Trinity College’s School of English.

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