Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee is an English actor.
Sir Christopher was born in Belgravia, Westminster, England, the son of the Contessa Estelle Marie and Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Trollope Lee of the 60th King's Royal Rifle Corps. Lee's mother was a famous Edwardian beauty who was painted by Sir John Lavery, as well as Oswald Birley and Olive Snell, and was sculpted by Clare F. Sheridan. Lee's maternal great-grandfather had been an Italian political refugee who sought refuge in Australia; his great-grandmother was Australian opera singer Marie Carandini.
His parents separated when he was very young and his mother took Lee and his sister to Switzerland. After enrolling in Miss Fisher's Academy in Wengen, he played his first villainous role as Rumpelstiltskin.
The family returned to London where Christopher attended Wagner's private school. His mother then married Harcourt "Ingle" Rose, a banker and uncle of the James Bond author Ian Fleming. Lee applied unsuccessfully for a scholarship to Eton although the interview was to prove portentous because of the presence of the noted ghost story author M. R. James. Lee later claimed in his autobiography that James had cut a very impressive figure; sixty years later Lee played the part of M.R. James for the BBC.Instead, Lee attended Wellington College where he won scholarships in classics. Lee witnessed the execution of Eugen Weidmann, the last person to be publicly executed in France, in June 1939. He volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War against the Soviet Union in 1939; however, as Lee admits in his autobiography, he and his fellow British volunteers were in Finland only a fortnight and kept well away from the Russian forces the whole time. He went on to serve in the Royal Air Force and intelligence services during World War II including serving as an Intelligence officer with the Long Range Desert Group. He trained in South Africa as a pilot but eyesight problems forced him to drop out. He eventually ended up in North Africa as Cipher Officer for No. 260 Squadron RAF and was with it through Sicily and Italy. Additionally, he has mentioned (including in his audio commentary on the Lord of the Rings DVD) serving in Special Operations Executive, though all details of actions undertaken by members of the SOE are still classified. Lee retired from the RAF after the end of the War with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. Christopher Lee is the only living person of the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy to have ever actually met J.R.R. Tolkien.
Lee was the only actor of The Lord of the Rings who had ever met Tolkien, and he also got Tolkien's blessing to play Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings film, if one were ever made.
- Lee auditioned for the part of Gandalf, but (it is assumed) his age lost him the role.
- He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the worlds tallest actors (6'5 ft).
- Lee is said to have had more recorded sword fights than any other actor in history.
- After his first role as Dracula, Lee appeared as the vampire in six other Dracula films. He also played 'The Creature' in The Curse of Frankenstein.
- Sir Christopher Lee also plays Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
- Lee is fluent in Italian (his grandfather was Italian) and German. He speaks moderate French.
- During the filming of his death scene in The Return of the King, Peter Jackson began to coach him how to react when Saruman is stabbed in the back by Grima (Brad Dourif), but Lee interrupted him, reminding him that Lee actually had heard the sound a man makes when he is stabbed in the back.
- Christopher Lee re-reads Lord of the Rings (LOTR) every year.
- Lee received the Award BAFTA Fellowship in 2011.
- The Carandinis, Lee's maternal ancestors, were given the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Cinemareview cites: "Cardinal Consalvi was Papal Secretary of State at the time of Napoleon and is buried at the Rome Pantheon in Rome next to the painter Raphael. His painting, by Lawrence, hangs in Windsor Castle".
- Lee is a step-cousin of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy novels. He plays the villain Scaramanga in the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.
- In the Film The House that Dripped Blood Lee, in one clip, is filmed reading a paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings.
- He is reprising his role as Saruman The White in The Hobbit Trilogy, although he is quite different from what we see in The Lord of the Rings. Saruman is now a noble gentleman, somewhat sarcastic and arrogant, but no intention of being evil.
- ↑ Peter Jackson (2002). Cameras in Middle-earth (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Special Extended Edition documentary) (DVD). New Line Cinema.
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