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Christopher Lee

Lee in his most famous role as Dracula

Born: 27th May 1922
Country: England
Occupation: Actor

Mention the name Christopher Lee to any moviegoer before 1959 and you'd have probably got a response along the lines of "Who?". This was not because he had never appeared in a film. Quite on the contrary. His current record of having made the most films of any other living actor was helped along quite considerably by the number of times he was inserted as a one-line wonder in movies such as Hamlet and That Lady from 1947 onwards. The reason for his apparent lack of success in the British film industry was not due to his talent or otherwise for acting. It was more to do with the fact that he was a head taller than most of the leading men and too foreign-looking. While this made him an excellent candidate to play a German soldier in Ill Met By Moonlight it didn't do much else for his career. Until he found out that Hammer Films meant to remake the horror classic Frankenstein...

Despite the fact that he had no lines, and one critic wrote that he "looked like a road accident", the film was a great success and he was immediately signed on to play another old favourite - Dracula. His popular success with the role meant that Lee was practically forced by Hammer to do a series of increasingly corny sequels, finally concluding with The Satanic Rites Of Dracula in 1973 when he decided that enough was enough. Although he consequently took on many diverse roles, the character of the vampiric Count is the one that he has always been identified with.

Christopher Lee

During his time at Hammer, Lee appeared in much of their horror output, usually alongside his good friend Peter Cushing. However, he did not always play the baddie, as in The Hound Of The Baskervilles, although his characters were typically shady. He also made horror movies for companies other than Hammer, such as Theatre Of Death, The Creeping Flesh and Circus of Fear, but the public did not care - the name Christopher Lee had become synonymous with horror.

When Lee left Hammer for good in 1973, he made what he regards as the best film of his career - a little movie set on a remote Scottish island. It was called The Wicker Man and is today still regarded as one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

Lee's next stop was Hollywood, and the varied roles of Bond baddie Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun, Rocheforte in The Three Musketeers and a gay biker in Serial. In recent years he has gone back to the horror genre in Panga and Funnyman and sent up his scary image in Gremlins 2 and The Stupids. He has also made a rare television appearance as the Grand Master of the Knights Templar in the BBC production of Ivanhoe and will soon be seen in both the upcoming film of his favourite book, The Lord Of The Rings, as Saruman and a television adaptation of Gormenghast. It seems that the Prince of Darkness is rather unwilling to lie back down in his coffin.

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Why We're Talking About Him:

Christopher Lee may not be the popular handsome leading man of the nineties like the Tom Cruises and Kevin Costners of this world, but he is one of the most proficient and prolific character actors any director could hope to have in a production.

Despite his typecasting in previous years, his roles since his horror years in the sixties have proved him to be capable of playing any role that is thrown at him, in any genre. This, perhaps, explains why despite the fact that most filmgoers were not born when he made Horror Of Dracula in 1960, he remains a popular and cult figure in the modern film industry. This, plus his 250+ movie credits makes him the ideal actor to hold very long discussions on...

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