Christopher Lee, the man behind some of cinema's most nefarious characters, died on Sunday from respiratory problems aged 93.
He was beloved on and off screen, his bravura performances as evil, malicious villains (Dracula, Saruman, Count Dooku, Death, Fu Manchu, Scaramanga, the list goes on...) going hand-in-hand with his fondness for heavy metal.
Some stand-out moments:
1. When he shed the blood of the Saxon men
2. How he acted until he was 92 and still had more movies on the way
3. His Heavy Metal Christmas album featuring a version of The Little Drummer Boy where he shreds while singing 'I have no gifts for you pa-rum-pa-pum-pum'
4. The 'Jingle Hell' Christmas album sequel he did a year later
5. When he witnessed the last public guillotine execution in France
'As a teenager, Lee was a witness at the execution of Eugen Weidmann – the last man to be publicly executed in France by guillotine. Later in life, Lee would also became friends with Albert Pierrepoint – the so-called ‘Last Hangman’ of England. Lee would occasionally drink at his pub.' (link)
6. When he received the 'Spirit of Metal' award
7. He is a descendent of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and named most of his albums after him
8. When, while doing publicity for The Man with the Golden Gun, the Golden Gun was taken off Lee and impounded by US customs
9. When he received JRR Tolkein's blessing to play Gandalf but played Saruman instead
10. This entire music video
11. He met the killers of Rasputin as a boy
'As a child, Lee’s parents introduced him to Felix Yusupov and Dmitri Pavlovich - the killers of Rasputin. Years later, in 1966, Lee appeared as Rasputin in Rasputin the Mad Monk. Years even later than that, Lee was asked to meet Rasputin’s daughter, who confided to him that he looked uncannily like the mad monk (it was the eyes!).'
12. When he posed with other classic horror legends Vincent Price, John Carradine and Peter Cushing
13. His orchestra-backed baritone ballad about the magic of a wizard's dream
14. When he didn't bother to turn up to a LOTR premiere because his scenes were cut
15. His concept EP based on Don Quixote
16. This anecdote from his autobiography
'While filming a sword fight with Errol Flynn for The Dark Avenger, Flynn almost cut off Lee’s little finger, forever scarring and misshaping it. Years later, a rematch was filmed for Flynn’s TV show. Flynn was supposed to duck while Lee took a swing at him. The swing would go over his head, while lopping the tops off the candles on a candelabra standing behind Flynn. Lee managed the extremely difficult manoeuvre, successfully chopping the candles down. Unfortunately, he also took Flynn’s wig off his head. Flynn walked silently off set. It took over half-an-hour to persuade him it had not been deliberate.'
17. He knows what being stabbed sounds like
In a scene on the extended version of Return of the King, Grima Wormtongue stabs Saruman in the back. Director Peter Jackson was coaching his actors on how to approach the scene, when Lee asked Jackson if he knew what it sounded like when someone was stabbed in the back. He then added "Because I do."
(HT Dave Paul)
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