by Nur Hussein, contributing writer
Today a legend turns 92: we wish a very happy birthday to Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, a distinguished and accomplished actor who has contributed his talents to many iconic roles throughout the years. In genre, we know him as Dracula, Scaramanga, Saruman and Count Dooku.
Christopher Lee was born in Belgravia, Westminster, London in 1922. His first acting role was in a school play as Rumpelstiltskin. However he started his professional acting career only after serving in World War 2 in the late ’40s. However it was with his work with Hammer Film Productions that he rose to fame, where he played iconic horror movie monsters, the most notable of which was Dracula, which he played many times. They weren’t terribly demanding roles for a thespian, but the public loved them and Christopher Lee became a recognizable name in film.
Trying to avoid being typecast as Dracula, he starred in the 1973 film Wicker Man, which also became a cult horror classic. In 1974 he played the villain Francisco Scaramanga in the Roger Moore Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. Incidentally, Ian Fleming, author of the Bond novels, is related to Christopher Lee by marriage.
In 1998, Lee starred in a bio-pic called Jinnah, where he played Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. He has stated that this the performance he feels is his best ever.
At the turn of the century, we saw Christopher Lee take the role of evil wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings films (plus a cameo in the Hobbit films too). He had always wanted to play Gandalf, but he was too old for the demands of the role at the time, which required horseback riding and fighting. He is an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien (whom he actually met once), and reads the novels once a year like an annual ritual.
During the early 2000’s, Christopher Lee also played Sith Lord Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels. As a capable fencer, he was able to perform a lot of the lightsaber swordplay himself.
Apart from acting, Christopher Lee is also an accomplished heavy metal rock star. He has released 4 full-length heavy metal albums, 2 EPs and various singles and guest singing appearances. Today on his birthday, he has released yet another one; an EP called “Metal Knight.” which is based on the story of Don Quixote, whom Sir Christopher describes as “the most metal fictional character that I know.”
We marvel at Sir Christopher’s long and amazing career. He has acted in over 200 films in his long, illustrious career, and he’s still going strong. He’s a World War 2 veteran, fencer, and a heavy metal rocker. Happy birthday to you sir, you’re one cool dude and may you have many more creative endeavors to come![youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-DTNRoL95o#t=0]
Nur is a tinkerer of programmable things, an apprentice in an ancient order of technomages. He enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and Lego in his spare time. His favourite authors are Asimov and Tolkien. He also loves Celtic and American folk music. You can follow him on twitter: @nurhussein