Lee, Christopher: Actor Profile

In The Golden Compass, Christopher Lee plays the crucial role of the First High Council.

Legendary actor Christopher Lee starred as Mr. Wonka, Willys dentist father, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Previously, he starred in The Lord of the Rings trilogy from New Line Cinema, Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones; and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith from LucasFilm.

Prior to his roles in these blockbusters, Lee starred in the critically acclaimed independent picture Jinnah, which he considers the most important movie of his career, and the epic BBC miniseries Gormenghast. He was also recently seen in Crimson Rivers II with Jean Reno, as well as Tim Burtons Sleepy Hollow and Corpse Bride. In 2007, he has appeared in 6 films: The Heavy, The Stone of Destiny, The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (voiceover: The Voice of Death), The Golden Compass and Boogie Woogie.

Lee was educated at Summer Fields preparatory school and took a scholarship at Eton College and Wellington College, where he was a classical scholar in Greek and Latin. After leaving school he worked as an office boy and messenger in London at the salary of one pound a week, and during five years of World War II he served in the Royal Air Force and Special Forces. He was decorated for distinguished service and held the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

After demobilization in 1946, he entered the film industry in 1947 and was, for a time, under contract to the Rank Organization. He has appeared in the theatre and in operatic performances and has recorded for radio worldwide. He also sang in The Return of Captain Invincible and recorded The King of Elflands Daughter for Chrysalis; Stravinskys The Soldiers Tale for Nimbus; Peter and the Wolf, also for Nimbus, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin; The King and I, Christopher Lee sings Devils, Rogues and Other Villains, from Broadway to Bayreuth and many others. Most recently, he recorded an album with the world famous metal band Rhapsody, and recorded the single The Magic of the Wizards Dream, which entered the music charts, making him a top recording singer. He recently recorded a solo album and DVD entitled Revelation. This is the first time somebody of his age has recorded a solo album, which has already gone to platinum.

The directors for whom Lee has worked include John Huston, Raoul Walsh, Joseph Losey, George Marshall, Orson Welles, Nicholas Ray, Michael Powell, Edward Molinaro, Jerome Savary, Billy Wilder, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton, John Landis, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Andrei Konchalovsky. He has filmed in Russian, French, Italian, German and Spanish, and has worked in numerous countries all over the world.

Lee has appeared in more than 250 film and television productions, amongst which the best known are A Tale of Two Cities, Dracula, The Mummy, The Wicker Man, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Three and the Four Musketeers, The Man with the Golden Gun (of which the author was his cousin Ian Fleming), 1941, Airport 77 and Gremlins II. He considers the most important point in his career to have been as host of Saturday Night Live in 1978 with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman and Jane Curtin. It is still the third highest rated show of the series.

Lee has three claims to fame as an actor: he is the only actor who has portrayed Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft; he executed King Charles the First of England and King Louis the Sixteenth of France; and he holds the world record for more sword fights on camera than any other actor in history. He also did all of his own stunts and is an honorary member of three Stuntmens Unions.

At college he was in the top ranking at squash, racquets and fencing, and was equally at home at cricket, rugby, football and hockey. He speaks French, Italian, Spanish and German and can get along in Swedish, Russian and Greek. His hobbies are travel, opera and golf. His handicap, once scratch, is now eight and he is now the only actor who has been made a member of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the oldest golf club in the world founded in 1744. He has had the great fortune to have played most of the worlds famous courses and is profoundly grateful to have played with virtually all the great golfers of modern times, from James Braid to Jack Nicklaus.

Lee has received awards for his contribution to the cinema from the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Great Britain. He is a Commander Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the worlds oldest order.

He has been married for 46 years to Danish model and painter Gitte Kroencke, who before their marriage modeled for Balenciaga, Balmain, Chanel and Christian Dior. They have one daughter, Christina, born in Switzerland. After living some years in Switzerland and California, they are now residents in the United Kingdom.

Amongst his publications are an autobiography Tall, Dark and Gruesome, first published by W.H. Allen in 1977 (and since re-published in 1997 and also re-published in 2003 by Orion Books Ltd as Lord of Misrule, introduced by Peter Jackson) as well as The Great Villains, Archives of Evil and The Films of Christopher Lee (Scarecrow Press). Also The Authorized Screen History by Jonathan Rigby (Foreword by George Lucas). Lee is listed in the Guinness Book of Movie Facts and Feats as being the international star with the most screen credits. He was awarded the London Film Critics Dilys Powell 94 award for his work as an actor and services to the film industry. He has recently been awarded Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queens Birthdays Honors list. In 2002, at the height of his career, he was awarded the prestigious Lifetime World Actor Award in Vienna from the hands of Mikhail Gorbachev. He was named by the French Government Officer of Arts and Letters. The next addition of The Guinness Book of Records also states that he is the most connected actor in the film business. The Internet Movie Database states that the films of Christopher Lee over 60 years have grossed more than any other actor in the history of cinema.