Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

RIP Sir Christopher Lee

A true legend of British cinema, Sir Christopher Lee, has sadly passed away today (11/06/2015). Making his screen debut in 1946, Christopher Lee amassed an astonishing 280 screen credits, among them some of the most iconic and fondly remembered roles in film history.

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Sir Christopher Lee was that rarest actors, well known and loved by people of any age. To older generations, he will forever be the face of Hammer Horror, always injecting a sense of prestige and class to even the silliest of Hammer titles. Dracula has been portrayed dozens of times on-screen, but few could argue that Christopher Lee rose above even Bela Lugosi to take the crown of ‘Best Screen Dracula’. When it comes to horror, however, I always cast my mind back to The Wicker Man, Lee giving a performance unlike any other in his career as the free spirited Lord Summerisle, so welcoming and so utterly terrifying.

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Soon, Lee became the go-to man for sinister, serious villains, none more deadly than Scaramanga in the James Bond favourite The Man With the Golden Gun. The film was silly, but Lee could always be depended to give a good performance, and Scaramanga is one of the best remembered of all Bond villains. Giving good performances in bad films was something Christopher Lee prided himself on, which gave us one of his greatest quotes:

“Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.”

Even as Lee got older, past the age many actors would retire, he continued to give iconic performances. How many other actors can say they appeared in two of the biggest film franchises of all time past the age of 80? As Saruman in the Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku in Star Wars, Lee continued to show that nobody gave a villainous performance quite like him, whilst gaining a whole new group of young fans, proving he was as popular as ever.

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Even as he reached his 90’s and his acting career wound down, he continued to work, providing voices for animated films, appearing in small roles for Scorsese and Burton, appearing in a new Hammer Horror film, and even releasing heavy metal albums. It was impressive, and nothing less than expected from a man as devoted to cinema as Sir Christopher Lee. It was a shock to many when it was announced that he had died at 93, because he seemed almost invincible, a man who would never stop. It’s saddening to think we will never get to see another iconic villain, or even another booming heavy metal album again.

Sir Christopher Lee was an icon of British unlike any other. A deserving winner of the BAFTA fellowship award and beloved by a nation, Sir Christopher Lee is a true legend, and he will be missed.

Christopher Lee

RIP Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

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