We've lost many great cultural icons in the past couple of years. Leonard Nimoy, Robin Williams, Terry Pratchett, and now most recently the beloved Christopher Lee. I can't think of a more fitting way to start off the Film section of this blog than by paying homage to this legendary actor and his life. With an unforgettable voice and a grand presence, Christopher Lee had an incredibly long career of almost seventy years as an actor, singer, and author. He starred in over two hundred films, playing many iconic villains such as Dracula, Scaramanga, and Count Dooku, and will forever be Saruman the White in my mind.
That is what I will always remember Christopher Lee for--his performance as Saruman. He gave that character the same kind of voice and presence that he gave to every one of his performances and that he owned himself. I always enjoyed watching the special features of The Lord of the Rings films and listening to Christopher Lee talk about acting, the details behind the set, or his experience with J.R.R. Tolkien's work. He was the only person working on the films that had ever met Tolkien, and he made a habit of reading the series once a year. I could instantly hear his passion for the story and the characters, and his vibrant voice and calm diction made it a treat to listen to him.
I distinctly remembering him talking about the filming of the extended scene in The Return of the King, when his character was killed (spoiler alert) with a knife being stabbed into his back. His simple, calm expertise talking about the way someone would act if that happened to them and how he translated that to his performance was fascinating. As an actor myself, that sort of thing intrigues me--how someone translates real-life knowledge and experience to an acting performance.
As I learned the news that Sir Christopher Lee had passed on, I immediately went and scoured the internet to see what people were saying about him. That's when I found out truly just how many films he had starred in. I immediately wanted to watch them all as a way of honoring his memory. And I think I will watch quite a few of his old movies as the years wear on and I want to experience some great acting. I'll close with one of Lee's famous quotes: