Today, we all received some pretty upsetting news. 93-year-old veteran actor Christopher Lee has passed away due to respiratory problems. I wasn’t familiar with some of his past work, but he was quite big in Europe. He made himself known for movies classic Hammer Horror films, where he played popular villains like Frankenstein, the Mummy and Count Dracula.
The Count I better know him as, however, is Count Dooku, from Star Wars Episodes II and III. It is almost unanimously agreed upon (unless you were born in the late 90s), that the prequel Star Wars films were just not very good. Some of you younger kids may have grown up with these particular movies, but I was used to the magic of the original trilogy, and the prequel films suffered from a lot of things that make parts of them difficult to watch.
None of this was Christopher Lee’s fault, however. He played an elegant Sith that we weren’t really used to, and was a wielder of the Makashi lightsaber form. Don’t ask me how I know that, I just do. I know I’m a nerd. Christopher Lee just had a voice and imposing stature that worked well for villainy. I imagine if he didn’t become an actor, he would be looming in a dark cave somewhere waiting for somebody to fall in a wicked trap.
He had yet another turn as the villain in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as the white wizard Saruman. This was the first time I had personally seen him in a movie, and damn if he wasn’t amazing in it. I can’t tell you how many times I watched the scene with Gandalf and Saruman in Isengard. I would literally rewind it over and over just to hear Lee say “A Great Eye…Lidless…Wreathed in FLAME.” It just gave me chills.
His voice was one of the most remarkable parts about the man. It was deep and bellowing, yet smooth and warm. Christopher Lee’s voice was the vocal equivalent of a Cello. He lent his voice to some things, including the priest in Corpse Bride. More surprisingly, he formed an operatic, symphonic metal band in his latter years. If you weren’t aware of Charlemagne, check it out here. It’s very silly and over the top, but the dude was super old. Just attempting something like that at his age is impressive.
It’s always upsetting when a great entertainer like Christopher Lee passes away. Still, I can’t be too saddened by the news. At 93, Lee had a long and prosperous life that most of us only dream of. So join me in saluting the work and life of this great man. We won’t see men of his type for quite some time. Rest in peace.