The Secret Life Of ‘Christopher Lee’ Is Bound To Become A Documentary Or Movie

© New Line Cinema

If you’re any kind of movie buff at all, chances are you’re familiar with Christopher Lee‘s work. That said, how about a quick resume refresher: he played iconic roles like Dracula, Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, Saruman (the white wizard in The Lord of the Rings for the non-nerds among you), and he also was part of the Star Wars franchise.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Even if you are a movie buff, you may not know that the knighted Brit was a whole lot more than arguably the most prolific (and at 6’5″, the tallest) actor in Hollywood history. Here’s a quick, dirty list of accomplishments: champion fencer, multiple language-speaker (six, I believe), trained stuntman, heavy metal singer, and perhaps most notably, a WWII veteran with quite the military resume.

Photo Credit: Disney

To start, Lee was born to some pretty impressive (and also borderline royal) parents back in 1922. His mother was an Italian Countess descended from Charlemagne and a Papal Secretary of State who wound up buried in the Pantheon next to Raphael. You know, the artist. His father was a decorated war hero who served during WWI (and yes, is also distantly related to Robert E. Lee, but don’t hold that against him).

He himself earned a Classics degree from Wellington College while becoming a champion squash player, fencer, hockey player, and rugby player. He took a low-level office job after graduation (I mean, he studied Classics, so what else was he going to do?), until he enlisted in the Finnish Army in 1939 to help fight off the Soviets (down with Communism!).

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

He didn’t see much action in Finland, but that would all change with his return to England and the Nazi march across Europe. Lee enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940 and cracked German ciphers for some time before heading to North Africa and digging in with the Long Range Desert Patrol (the forerunner of the SAS). Afterward, he was assigned to the Special Operations Executive, where basically no one alive probably knows what he did because all of his military records are still classified and sealed.

Maybe all you need to know is that he has been honored and decorated for battlefield bravery by the Czech, Yugoslavian, English, and Polish governments, so obviously he did not spend the war years twiddling his thumbs.

After the war, he persevered through a decade of small acting parts before landing the job of Frankenstein’s monster (I mean, he was suuuuuuuper tall, so why not give him a shot, right?). The following year, he continued the monster trend and took on the role of Dracula, which would become one his most iconic roles.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

It would also begin a trend of playing villains, which Lee did happily for the majority of his career: Sauroman the White, Darth Tyranus, a Bond villain – in The Man with the Golden Gun – and on and on and on. I haven’t done the research on this and a quick Google search didn’t return the answer, but I’m guessing that Lee has to have been killed on screen more than anyone else in Hollywood history.

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

Research nerds, get on that for me, will you? Drop it in the comments.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Being a certified stuntman, Lee did all of his own stunts and injured himself on occasion (like when he threw himself headfirst through a plate-glass window for a role). Despite having over 270 acting credits to his name, and working with people like Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston, and Jeff Bridges, he never got too big for his britches. I know this because he also worked with Sacha Baron Cohen, Nicolas Cage, and appeared in a film called Howling II: Werewolf Bitch. So…

Speaking six languages made him a master of accents, and he played characters from pretty much every nationality you can imagine. The folks at Guinness say he’s appeared in more films than any other person, and the Oracle of Bacon lists him as the Center of the Hollywood Universe because you can link anyone in Hollywood history to Lee in less than three steps. Also, if you’re one of those people who equates money with success, his films have grossed more than any actor ever, with his top five grossing $4.4 billion.

Yes, with a B.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In non-acting badassery, here goes: Lee was a great golfer who played with Jack Nicklaus and he is a member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, he was the Commander of the Order of St. John’s of Jerusalem, a Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire, and was even given a medal by Mikhail Gorbachev.

Oh, I almost forgot. When he was 88-years-old, he recorded and released a (pretty good) album of heavy metal songs about the life of Charlemagne.

Photo Credit: Facebook, Core Tees

So there’s that.

Basically, what I’m saying is that no matter how accomplished or fierce you are, and no matter how long you live, you’re going to have a pretty hard time living up to the badass 93 years turned in by Christopher Lee. But, may the odds be ever in your favor.