Thursday, June 11, 2015

RIP Sir Christopher Lee - 1922-2015

Details are still coming in, but this much is clear: Sir Christopher Lee, one of our greatest actors, has died at age 93 from respiratory issues in hospital.

Lee was best known for much of his life as an actor, and for much of that career as the main performer of Count Dracula for Hammer Films and as a sought-after character actor with a devout cult following thereafter; but his notoriety experienced a late-in-life explosion into the mainstream as Sarumon in the LORD OF THE RINGS films and Count Dooku in the STAR WARS Prequel Trilogy. In the mid-2000s, he embarked on yet another career as a heavy metal vocalist. His professional filmography is, frankly, too vast to even begin to recount here.

But the fact is, even in the 25 years of life prior to becoming an actor, Lee lived more life than most men could ever aspire to: An adventurer, scholar, philanthropist, activist, veteran of the theater and decorated (to say nothing of still highly-classified) veteran of the British SAS in World War II. His two autobiographies, "Tall, Dark & Gruesome" and "The Lord of Misrule" are must-reads for fans of Teddy Roosevelt-style "how could this man have actually existed?" tales.

Lee leaves behind a body of work that would be the envy of any actor in any era: As Dracula he reimagined the most iconic monster in horror cinema. As Scaramanga he gave James Bond one of his greatest foes. In LOTR he lived out a personal dream of bringing Tolkien's work to life. Between that was an epic run of character roles, lead performances, villains and even comedy, but he famously said (later in life) that his best role was in the little-scene (in the West) Pakistani film JINNAH - a biography of the founder of modern Pakistan.