Today, people all over the world will be reading in the news or via posts on social media of truly tragic news. The British actor and screen icon Sir Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93. Lee passed away of respiratory problems and heart failure shortly after celebrating his 93rd Birthday. Easily recognisable for his incredible voice, acting presence as well as imposing statue, at six foot five he was often described as a giant of the screen both, physically and emotionally. The actor will be remembered for over two hundred screen appearances, in a career that spans over sixty years.
Lee reprised the role in a number of sequels and had a long career with the British Horror studio until its demise in the late 70’s. Lee often portrayed dark or tortured characters on screen yet played them with intelligence and charm. He played a Bond villain to Roger Moore’s 007 in The Man with the Golden Gun and played alternating roles in a number of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, (playing Sherlock, Mycroft as well as Sir Henry Baskerville)
Another role that Lee would become synonymous with would be cult classic The Wicker Man. Described by Lee as his best film, it followed detective Sergeant Howie as he journeys to a remote Island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. The film is remembered for its eerie tone, creepy characters and shock ending. Lee played island leader, Lord Summerisle in a film that is remembered as a British staple of Horror.
Despite the success he had in Britain, Lee feared long term typecasting and moved to America in search of varied work. Here Lee was able to demonstrate his comedic side with roles that showcased he could be funny as well as menacing. With roles in films such as 1941 and Police Academy, the move gave Lee a chance to extend his film presence.
Even in his later smaller roles his presence was strong. Most notable perhaps is the work he did with friend and director Tim Burton. He had a small role in the opening of Sleepy Hollow and also played Willy Wonka’s father in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He lent his voice to Burton’s comedic Pastor Galswells in Corpse Bride as well as Wonderland’s fiercest being The Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland. Despite small screen time his ability to dominate his scenes is stronger than ever.
Despite not receiving many acting accolades during his career his contribution and commitment to the arts was never questioned. He received the honour of The BAFTA Academy Fellowship back in 2011 which was presented to him by Tim Burton. He received a BFI Fellowship back in 2013 and of course was knighted in 2009 for his work.
The respect and admiration that he and his work commanded is obvious in the wake of his death. Sir Christopher Lee will not just be remembered for his illustrious film, (and singing) career but as a true gentleman of the screen. Described by those who meet him as simply a lovely man who was generous and humble. It is not merely his work we remember but the loss of a great man.
At 93, he may have led a full and long life but it still feels as if he was taken from us too soon. You will be missed Mr Lee. Rest in Peace.