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Where Is He Now?

At this moment in time, Christoper Lee is 90 years old, and while he hasn’t been turning out movies like he used to, the fact he’s still acting is extremely impressive and exciting. It’s weird to say this about an actor who appeared in so much, but at the beginning of the 21st century, Lee had a resurgence in his career and has appeared in 22 films already. And in 2001, he appeared in the role that many modern day audiences would remember him for: Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings wasn’t the only recent series he would act in though! He was just getting started. He would appear in Star Wars Episodes II and III as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus, and would lend his voice to the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars for the same character. What’s impressive about this role is that, while there is plenty of swordplay that takes place in the film, Lee claims to have done most of the swordplay himself. For this film, Lee would have been between the age of 80-85 roughly. That just shows his dedication to his acting and how hard he works. And that he is an ageless wizard.

Lee has always been a favorite actor of director Tim Burton, and because of this, Lee has appeared in five of Burton’s films since 1999. His first appearance was a small role in the film Sleepy Hollow, but this would lead to larger roles. He was given the role of Pastor Galswells in Corpse Bride, and then played a small role in Burton’s take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as the father of Willy Wonka, dentist Dr. Wilbur Wonka. He was also in the original cut of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — as the spirit of Sweeney Todd’s victims called The Gentleman Ghost. The role however would end up being cut from the film because Burton felt that the songs from the part were too theatrical for film. Lee has appeared in Burton’s two most recent films, voicing the Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland and appearing in the adaptation of Dark Shadows as Clarney. He has also leant his voice to the most recent Tim Burton film, Frankenweenie, which will be released October 5th of this year.

Lee would end up appearing in the Oscar-Nominated film Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese as Monsieur Labisse. I remember when I first watched the film, I was unaware that he was in it — but once the camera cut to him, I just knew that it couldn’t have been anyone else. Speaking as someone who only truly knew him for his role as Saruman (and I’m sure I can speak for plenty of people in my generation) — Lee is so magnificent that when he appears on our screen today, we immediately know that this is Christopher Lee in front of our eyes.

Even though Lee reached the young age of 90 recently, he still isn’t stopping. In fact, he will be appearing in what may be two of the most successful films of all time within the next year and a half. Lee will be taking on the role of Saruman again in the Peter Jackson directed films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Being such a big fan of the Lord of the Rings franchise, I absolutely cannot wait and see what comes next. An Unexpected Journey will hit theaters December 14th, and it’s a guarantee that I will be there. There and Back Again will be in theaters December 13, 2013, and, again I will guarantee that I will be there.

Josh Kaye for Classic Movie Hub

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One of the most respected actors of all time, Christopher Lee has been in the industry since 1946, and has performed roles in about 275 films, making him the Guinness World Record holder. Lee was born on May 27, 1922 in Belgravia, Westminster to Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Trollope Lee and Contessa Estelle Marie. His parents would separate when he was young, and he would live with his mother and sister in Switzerland. Lee would enroll in Miss Fisher’s Academy located in Wengen. His family would end up returning back to London, and Lee would attend Wagner’s private school. Afterwards, he would spend some time at Summer Fields School, and after being denied a scholarship for Eton, would wind up attending Wellington College.

It wasn’t until 1946 where Lee began his road to acting in films, when he signed a seven-year contract with the Rank Organisation, a British entertainment company. He would make his debut in the Gothic romance film Corridor of Mirrors, directed by Terrence Young, in 1947. He would also make uncredited appearances in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet in 1948 and John Huston’s Moulin Rouge in 1952. Lee would make his first film for Hammer in 1957, The Curse of Frankenstein, where he played Frankenstein’s Monster, while his close friend Peter Cushing would play the Baron. It was in 1958 where Lee would take on the character that would stick with him forver, when he played Dracula in a film of the same name for the same company. Peter Cushing would end up taking on the role of Doctor Van Helsing.

He would take on the role again in Dracula: Prince of Darkness in 1965. This particular performance is notable for the main reason that Lee has no lines and only hisses his way through the film. There are two sides of this story, the first being that Lee refused to speak the poor dialogue that he was given. The second being that screenwriter Jimmy Sangster claims there were no lines for Dracula at all. Lee and Cushing would end up appearing in 8 Dracula films that were produced by Hammer Films (he did appear in another Dracula film, but it was not associated with Hammer).

Breaking away from the Dracula-ness of Lee’s life, he has appeared in so many more films. Lee would appear in three seperate Sherlock Holmes films, playing Sir Henry Baskerville in The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1959 (alongside Peter Cushing, who played Holmes), then playing Sherlock Holmes himself in the 1962 film Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, and finally in the Billy Wilder directed film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in 1970.

It did seem like Hammer Films did own Lee’s life between the years of 1957 to 1977, as he would appear in numerous other films for them. But in 1973, he would appear in The Wicker Man, which he states is his personal favorite. Lee played the role of Lord Summerisle, and was so attracted to the role written by Anthony Shaffer, that he gave his services to the film for free. After this role, he completely left the horror genre for good. In 1974, Lee would end up becoming a James Bond villain, playing the role of assassin Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. By the end of the 1970’s, Lee had already appeared in 137 different films, and would only appear in more as time went on.

Josh Kaye for Classic Movie Hub

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Christopher Lee

Prominent Roles
Corridor of Mirrors (1948) as Charles
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) as The Creature
Dracula (1958) as Count Dracula
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) as Sir Henry Baskerville
Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) as Count Dracula
The Wicker Man (1973) as Lord Summerisle
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) as Francisco Scaramanga
Jinnah (1998) as Mohammed Ali Jinnah
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) as Saruman
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Corpse Bride (2005) as Pastor Galswells
Hugo (2011) as Monsieur Labisse
Dark Shadows (2012) as Silas Clarney


Josh Kaye for Classic Movie Hub

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