Hollywood’s Greatest: Then and Now – Christopher Lee Part 3

Where Is He Now?

At this moment in time, Christoper Lee is 90 years old, and while he hasn’t been turning out movies like he used to, the fact he’s still acting is extremely impressive and exciting. It’s weird to say this about an actor who appeared in so much, but at the beginning of the 21st century, Lee had a resurgence in his career and has appeared in 22 films already. And in 2001, he appeared in the role that many modern day audiences would remember him for: Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings wasn’t the only recent series he would act in though! He was just getting started. He would appear in Star Wars Episodes II and III as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus, and would lend his voice to the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars for the same character. What’s impressive about this role is that, while there is plenty of swordplay that takes place in the film, Lee claims to have done most of the swordplay himself. For this film, Lee would have been between the age of 80-85 roughly. That just shows his dedication to his acting and how hard he works. And that he is an ageless wizard.

Lee has always been a favorite actor of director Tim Burton, and because of this, Lee has appeared in five of Burton’s films since 1999. His first appearance was a small role in the film Sleepy Hollow, but this would lead to larger roles. He was given the role of Pastor Galswells in Corpse Bride, and then played a small role in Burton’s take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as the father of Willy Wonka, dentist Dr. Wilbur Wonka. He was also in the original cut of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — as the spirit of Sweeney Todd’s victims called The Gentleman Ghost. The role however would end up being cut from the film because Burton felt that the songs from the part were too theatrical for film. Lee has appeared in Burton’s two most recent films, voicing the Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland and appearing in the adaptation of Dark Shadows as Clarney. He has also leant his voice to the most recent Tim Burton film, Frankenweenie, which will be released October 5th of this year.

Lee would end up appearing in the Oscar-Nominated film Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese as Monsieur Labisse. I remember when I first watched the film, I was unaware that he was in it — but once the camera cut to him, I just knew that it couldn’t have been anyone else. Speaking as someone who only truly knew him for his role as Saruman (and I’m sure I can speak for plenty of people in my generation) — Lee is so magnificent that when he appears on our screen today, we immediately know that this is Christopher Lee in front of our eyes.

Even though Lee reached the young age of 90 recently, he still isn’t stopping. In fact, he will be appearing in what may be two of the most successful films of all time within the next year and a half. Lee will be taking on the role of Saruman again in the Peter Jackson directed films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Being such a big fan of the Lord of the Rings franchise, I absolutely cannot wait and see what comes next. An Unexpected Journey will hit theaters December 14th, and it’s a guarantee that I will be there. There and Back Again will be in theaters December 13, 2013, and, again I will guarantee that I will be there.

Josh Kaye for Classic Movie Hub

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