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Sir Christopher Lee is one of the most successful actors of several generations. He will soon turn ninety, but continues an active acting career since 1946. He has a most distinguished career, spanning acting, narrating, singing, and serving in the British Royal Air Force and Intelligence Service. His film ‘Hugo’ is one of four projects in 2011.
It is difficult to imagine anyone having missed Christopher Lee’s performance completely. He has appeared in nearly three hundred movies, counting some of the most successful and iconic in cinema history. He had appeared in nearly fifty productions before his real success in horror films.
In 1957, he played the monster in the Hammer horror ‘The Curse of Frankenstein.’ He would be better known as Count Dracula the following year, while Frankenstein’s monster would be more associated with Boris Karloff, his friend, neighbour and twice-co-star. Another friend and co-star, Peter Cushing, often played the good guy to Christopher Lee’s villains.
He played Sir Henry Baskerville to Cushing’s Sherlock Holmes in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ (1959). He also played Holmes and his brother Mycroft in two other Holmes films. Other roles in this period include Dr. Fu Manchu, the Mummy and Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde. He also starred in the cult-classic, ‘The Wicker Man,’ the story goes, for free.
Christopher Lee has acted in foreign films as well: in addition to English, he can speak German, French, Spanish and Italian (and a little Greek, Swedish and Russian). His mother’s family is of Italian nobility. The Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted the family the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire.
This might explain the name of his ‘Charlemagne Productions, Ltd.’ and its album ‘Charlemagne,’ a symphonic metal concept album in which he narrates. He has also sung heavy metal and other genres. He is a classically-trained bass vocalist with an extensive discography. He has also narrated and voiced characters for video games.
Over another generation of films, he appeared as the villain in the James Bond film, ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’ His step-cousin, Ian Fleming, had been denied his choice of Sir Christopher Lee as Dr. No earlier. He also played a villain in ‘The Three Musketeers’ (1973) and its two sequels, among other roles in film and TV.
In the last decade of cinema, he has appeared in two of the first three episodes of the ‘Star Wars’ series. still performing many of his own stunts and swordplay, and played Saruman in the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. He will reprise the role in the two part ‘The Hobbit,’ released over the next two years.
His recurring collaboration with director Tim Burton is an appropriate marriage of talents, and his distinct voice and profound acting ability and presence ensure Sir Christopher Lee will continue to entertain audiences in a broad range of television and film genres as long as possible. Nearly ninety, he shows little sign of retiring –thankfully, for all.