From ‘Dracula’ to ‘LOTR,’ remembering the genius of Sir Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee, whose career spanned more fifty years on screen, has passed away at 93. The brilliant actor behind Saruman from Lord of the Rings, and Count Dooku from the Star Wars prequels, has left an indelible mark on film.

As his LOTR co-star Elijah Wood wrote today: “An extraordinary man and life lead, Sir Christopher Lee. You were an icon, and a towering human being with stories for days. We’ll miss you.”

Lee may have been most recognizable for his work in those epic film franchises, but his long, amazing career spanned all the way back to the horror movies of the ’50s. Way before CGI-monsters were a thing, Lee was scaring us as The Mummy and Count Dracula.

Lee also got to play one of the best Bond villains ever, in one of the best Bond films ever, as Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun .(Lee’s Scaramanga is the man with the golden gun, sorry if I just spoiled that for anyone).

Bond’s Roger Moore paid tribute to the actor on Twitter with this moving post.

Lee’s expansive resumé continued to grow through the 21st century, as he became of staple of Tim Burton films like Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Alice in Wonderland. Burtonreleased a statement saying that, “He was the last of his kind – a true legend – who I’m fortunate to have called a friend. He will continue to inspire me and I’m sure countless others for generations to come.”

Lee was in his 80s by the time the LOTR movies came around, and he stepped into the world of hobbits with dynamic force and presence. “I think acting is a mixture of instinct, imagination and inventiveness,” he famously said. “All you can learn as an actor is basic technique.” In his work, Lee embodied all of these qualities, as well as the ability to transform into just about anyone. As Twitter is alight with tributes to the late actor today, perhaps one photo being circulated says what words cannot. It’s a collection of some (but by no means all) of his most unforgettable roles through the decades, and a testament to his impact on film history. RIP Christopher Lee. You will be missed.

Images via here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

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