In the ’50s and ’60s, he was best known for his work in the Hammer Horror films, where he famously played Count Dracula, often alongside another actor who eventually showed up in Star Wars, Peter Cushing. In the ’70s, he upped his profile with pivotal roles in The Wicker Man and The Man with the Golden Gun.
(My personal introduction to Lee was 1982’s The Last Unicorn, where he voiced the villain, King Haggard.)
In the early 2000s, he gained a whole new audience in two of the decades biggest franchises, playing Dooku in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and the wizard Saruman in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptions. He also appeared in several Tim Burton films.
Films aside, Lee led a intriguing life: He served as an intelligence officer during and just after World War II, where his duties involved hunting down Nazi war criminals. (In an infamous bit from the Lord of the Rings extras, he tells Peter Jackson how it sounds when a man is stabbed in the back.)
He also released several heavy metal concept albums, the last in 2013.
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