Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee. 27 May 1922 ~ 7 June 2015
For the late Sir Christopher Lee, horror was not just something he portrayed so memorably in the movies, it was something that he had repeatedly witnessed in real life.
During the filming of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the action called for the character of Saruman, the wizard played by Lee, to be stabbed in the back. The director, Peter Jackson, wanted Lee to scream out, but the legendary actor told him that when people are wounded in such a way, they are unable to scream.
‘Peter,’ said Lee, in his magnificently rich, authoritative voice. ‘Have you ever heard the sound a man makes when he’s stabbed in the back?’ Jackson admitted that he hadn’t. ‘Well, I have,’ Lee continued, ‘and I know what to do.’ The lungs are punctured, Lee explained, meaning that the victim cannot cry out and instead just emits a quiet groan. With this gory revelation, Jackson and the crew went silent. They all knew that Lee had served in World War II, but here was a sign that he had witnessed true horror.
It was that sense of a dark, concealed past that helped to make Lee, who died on Sunday 7th June 2015 in a London hospital of heart failure, one of the finest and most distinctive actors of his generation. Although he will always be best remembered for his defining role as Dracula, Lee’s rich experiences of life before he became an actor equipped him to play a far broader range of genres than simply horror. Although he will always be best remembered for his defining role as Dracula, Lee’s rich experiences of life before he became an actor equipped him to play a far broader range of genres than simply horror.
Sir Christopher Lee was the epitome of a true Englishmen who served his country in its hour of need. As an actor he was the polar opposite of the shallow, self-regarding, limited-attention-span celebrities of today. He was also a traditional British Conservative, who like so many with family links to the continent was also a Eurosceptic. He was deeply attached to our democracy, and deeply suspicious of what he saw as the anti-democratic tide of European integration. I will now forgive this good man for ruining past family holidays to Whitby. Yours Aye.