The weird, wild, wonderful world of Christopher Lee

The legendary screen villain who played Dracula, Scaramanga and Saruman was also making heavy metal music into his 90s

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Not many actors can boast so many genuinely iconic roles in their career – far fewer can add that they were performing heavy metal music into their 90s…

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The sad death of Christopher Lee at the age of 93 marks the end of a long and incredibly well-lived life – and a farewell to a weird, wild and wonderful British screen legend.

Here’s a look back at just some of his greatest performances…   


Frankenstein’s monster

Lee played the Creature in the Curse of Frankenstein, the first film in his long relationship with both Hammer studios and his friend Peter Cushing. The moment when he rips the bandages from his face remains genuinely scary to this day… 


Dracula

Lee continued to be the focus of terror, and a man of few words, in his most famous Hammer role of Count Dracula. He made numerous Dracula films between 1958 and the early 70s but later claimed that “emotional blackmail” was the only reason he continued, as refusing them would have put others out of work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTyBClMmoyQ


Lord Summerisle

You could argue that this is the most terrifying role of Lee’s career. The Wickerman’s cross-dressing, all-singing-all-dancing lord of Summerisle is also an implacable pagan priest who demands horrific blood sacrifices. Sadly, there’s no clip available in which he features, so here’s the man himself talking about it instead…


Francisco Scaramanga

Lee is as suave as Bond himself (he’s even stolen Roger Moore’s pastel blue safari suit) as the hired assassin in 1974 007 outing The Man with the Golden Gun…


Count Dooku

Thirty years after he last played Dracula, Lee was another evil Count, Sith Lord Dooku, in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Here he shows off his lightsabre skills against Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda.


Saruman

Lee was a huge Lord of the Rings fan and is famously the only member of the movies’ cast to have met author JRR Tolkien in real life. He had ambitions to play Gandalf himself but admitted that by the time the films came about, the physical demands would have been too much for him. The role of Gandalf’s evil counterpart was, of course, right up the street of Britain’s most accomplished screen villain…


The Bloody Verdict of Verden

It’s part of Lee lore that he could trace his lineage back to the great Emperor Charlemagne. Hence the name of his ‘symphonic metal’ album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross. Words can’t really do this track or the video justice, you just need to watch it…

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A Heavy Metal Christmas

Sadly, there is no video with this track but Lee’s operatic bass booming out The Little Drummer Boy over throbbing heavy metal guitars sums up a fearless, funny, unpredictable British legend…