Christopher Lee: In His Own Words

Sir Christopher Lee spent a lifetime exploring a wide genre of films and roles, from portraying one of horror’s most iconic vampires in films such as 1958’s Horror of Dracula to Saruman the White in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and even exploring his musical interests with his very own heavy metal albums. Credited with appearing in over 280 films, Mr. Lee was a true master of cinema, so it only seems fitting that mourning the passing of such a legend should include remembering some of his insights on acting and on life.

As is the case with many that feel a special calling to a particular field, Christopher often expressed his deep love for acting and cinema in general, while appearing in interviews. The Hollywood Reporter reminds his fans of this love for performing with one of Mr. Lee’s most memorable quotes.

“Making films has never just been a job to me, it is my life. I have some interests outside of acting – I sing and I’ve written books, for instance – but acting is what keeps me going, it’s what I do, it gives life purpose.”

In 2011, Mr. Lee was honored with a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Fellowship.

“It means a lot to me,” Christopher said of the honor, “because it is a pat on the back from the profession. I shall probably have tears on the night of the ceremony. I’m much softer than people think. I don’t present to the world an emotional face. I’m pretty good at self-control, but I am easily moved.”

This is no small praise from Sir Christopher Lee. Some fans may not know this, but Christopher is a veteran as well as a respected performer and he reveals that he has seen real horrors, enough so that Mr. Lee is unaffected by make-believe suffering.

“That is real horror and blood. When the Second World War finished I was 23 and already I had seen enough horror to last me a lifetime. I’d seen dreadful, dreadful things, without saying a word. So seeing horror depicted on film doesn’t affect me much.”

To aspiring actors, Christopher Lee has some wisdom to impart that has come from a lifetime of experience. Mr. Lee married the love of his life Gitte, a former Chanel model, in 1961 and Christopher says that acting has only ever come second to that other love in his life.

“The secret to a long marriage in the film industry? Marry someone wonderful, as I did. And always have her come along on location.”

Of Dracula, the character for which Mr. Lee is most widely known, the actor surprisingly had very little to say. He seemed to have grown weary of the commercialization of the character.

“I stopped appearing as Dracula in 1972 because in my opinion the presentation of the character had deteriorated to such an extent, particularly bringing him into the contemporary day and age, that it really no longer had any meaning.”

How should Sir Christopher Lee be remembered, as fans and admirers mourn him on this sad occasion? Why not ask Mr. Lee, himself. He expressed sentiments of a similar nature in that 2011 interview with The Telegraph.

“Please don’t describe me in your article as a ‘horror legend,” Lee said. “I moved on from that.”

[Featured image: Sir Christopher Lee courtesy of Eamonn McCormack/Getty Images]

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