Christopher Lee, film legend who is noted for his iconic role as Dracula and an extensive list of influential movies of the 20th and 21st century, died on Sunday in London at the age of 93 after suffering heart failure and respiratory problems.
If you watched any movie in your life, chances are you have witnessed the acting prowess of Lee. He started his acting career in the horror genre, making films for the British film production company responsible for Frankenstein and, of course, Dracula, a role that Lee played 10 times. The first film where he donned fangs was in 1958 in “Horror of Dracula” and then went on to do other follow-ups including “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” in 1968 all the way to “Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride” in 1973.
He became a mainstay in the horror genre and went beyond playing Dracula. He was in “The Mummy” in 1959 and went on to be in movies that were genre-driven thrillers but where he didn’t have to wear fangs or a costume like the lauded “The Devil Rides Out” in 1967. Lee’s early career was an indication that he was a talented actor that can play characters in fantastical stories with intensity and without being cartoonish. He gave a third dimension to roles that would normally be flat and lifeless.
Lee continued to work throughout the years continuing to work in horror as well as outside of the genre, giving him a varied resume of movies. In 1974 he stepped into the role of a Bond villain, playing Francisco Scaramanga in “The Man with the Golden Gun” who many say was a different kind of Bond villain. He was 007’s yang to his yin. He essentially played Bond’s sexier darkside.
He continued giving us his acting panache and villainous excellence throughout years in television and movies. He was Lord Summerisle in 1973’s “The Wicker Man” and stepped into the role of Sherlock Holmes for TV in the ’90s. He even hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 1978. His work earned him numerous accolades including BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild awards. The man did it all.
In the 21st century, he became a fanboy’s dream actor, reaching fantasy and sci-fi royalty. He was the evil Count Dooku with the cool pistol grip lightsaber in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” He also made a name for himself as Gandalf’s evil frenemy, Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” franchise. Tim Burton folded him into his universe casting him as Willy Wonka’s frightening father with a heart of gold in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Corpse Bride,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and the movie adaptation of the vampire soap opera, “Dark Shadows.”
Sir Christopher Lee was the quintessential icon that any Comic-Con attendee would die over. He was the epitome of the fantastic and the dramatic – not to mention the coolest. He always manage to intimidate in his work, but was somehow still approachable. He was the silent, wise and no-nonsense British grandfather to all of us. His thrill, charisma and legacy will live on in his one-of-a-kind career.