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Christopher Lee as Dracula - Christopher Lee, who was knighted as Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee by the Queen in 2009, is a world famous actor from England. Born in 1922 in Belgravia, Westminster, Lee’s family is well known for its leading roles albeit as musicians and military leaders rather than actors. His mother was also considered as one of the most beautiful women of her era and her image has been sculpted as well as painted dozens of times. It was obvious from an early age that Lee would be a success given his lineage.
Lee has been acting professionally since 1947. The first role he ever had was as Rumpelstiltskin, a noted villain, while attending primary school. After unsuccessfully applying to Eton, following his high school graduation, he continued to study the classics in order to pursue his acting career. Christopher Lee acted in his first film, The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 as the starring role of Frankenstein; the film was directed by Hammer Films.
His well-played performance led to his role as Dracula in the self-titled film in 1958, also directed by Hammer; the film was released in the US under the title Horror of Dracula. Most fans and film critics have long considered Christopher Lee as Dracula as the quintessential actor for the role. He had a statuesque physique that was the perfect height without being too grotesque. With his sharp piercing dark eyes, Christopher Lee could cut through the screen to make the viewer feel as if Dracula would be knocking at their own door at any moment. Combined with his deep heavy voice, Christopher Lee was extremely potent as someone who could scare most viewers. He was the perfect Dracula.
There was a sequel to Dracula, The Brides of Dracula, that was filmed in 1960 also by Hammer Films, but not with Christopher Lee as Dracula. While rumors follow that it had more to do with Lee’s desire not to be typecast as the character of Dracula, most evidence suggests there was a disagreement concerning payment of Lee’s requested fee. However, in 1965, once again the film saw Christopher Lee as Dracula in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, also by Hammer Films. It is notable to add that in this second film, Christopher Lee had no spoken lines. He later claimed that the dialog that had been written for him was so horrible that he refused to speak a word of it.
Christopher Lee continued to act as Dracula for Hammer Films, starring in Dracula Has Risen From the Grave in 1968, 1969’s sequel titled Taste the Blood of Dracula, and Scars of Dracula in 1970. He continued to act as Dracula for two additional films for Hammer Films during the 70s, Dracula AD in 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula in 1973, but these much less successful films were noted as being flops with the obvious tension between Christopher Lee and Hammer Films showing through to the resulting films. Overall Christopher Lee as Dracula acted in seven motion pictures as the fanged monster from 1958 to 1973.
No matter the circumstances of typecasting or low wages, Christopher Lee as Dracula was the role that brought Lee into stardom. As part of the Hammer Horror series, Count Dracula was the quintessential villain. Following his role as Dracula, Christopher Lee continued to be cast as a villain. Some of his most well-known roles include Saruman from the Lord of the Rings, Lord Summerisle of the Wicker Man, and Count Dooku in two of the Star Wars trilogy.
All of his roles are not villains, however, and he is noted for saying that he felt his role of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the biopic about the leader was his greatest achievement in his film and acting career. As a proficient actor who has been in 275 films, Christopher Lee is the Guinness Book of World Records recipient for having acted in the most filming roles in history.