Christopher Lee is one of the favorite actors of our age, and especially dear to the science fiction and fantasy fandom community. He has been acting since 1947, and had a notable career playing lead characters in horror movies (most notably vampires) – but he’s also played Sherlock Holmes, Fu Manchu, Count Dracula, Count Dooku in the Star Wars movies and in the animated series, and Death at least five different times – and he’s back as the wizard Saruman in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. He’s been in over 275 films, more than anyone. He’s created so many memorable characters and added so much of himself to the rich tapestry of fantasy, horror and science fiction that it’s impossible to consider the genres without acknowledging his contribution to them.
Christopher Lee is a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, and when it was announced that they were casting for the films, he went to them and submitted himself for their consideration. He even read for the part of Gandalf, but the role was too physically demanding for a 90 year old. Sir Christopher was also notably the only person in the LotR film to have actually met Professor Tolkien. He was unable to travel to New Zealand to film his scenes as Saruman, so the production moved his scenes to England so that they could be shot at Pinewood Studios.
What many don’t realize is that in addition to acting, he can sing. Listen to him sing Treebeard’s Song from the CD boxed set, The Tolkien Ensemble & Christopher Lee – Complete Songs & Poems. Lee’s deep imposing voice makes him a perfect Treebeard, and the results are at once beautiful, haunting, and chill to the bone.
“Those were the broad days! Time was when I could walk and sing all day and hear no more than the echo of my own voice in the hollow hills. The woods were like the woods of Lothlórien, only thicker, stronger, younger. And the smell of the air! I used to spend a week just breathing.”
Treebeard fell silent, striding along, and yet making hardly a sound with his great feet. Then he began to hum again, and passed into a murmuring chant. Gradually the hobbits became aware that he was chanting to them:
In the willow-meads of Tasarinan I walked in the Spring.
Ah! the sight and the smell of the Spring in Nan-tasarion!
And i said that was good.
I wandered in Summer in the elm-woods of Ossiriand.
Ah! the light and the music in the Summer by the Seven Rivers of Ossir!
And i thought that was best.
To the beeches of Neldoreth I came in the Autumn.
Ah! the gold and the red and the sighing of leaves in the Autumn in
It was more than my desire.
To the pine-trees upon the highland of Dorthonion I climbed in the Winter.
Ah! the wind and the whiteness and the black braches of Winter upon
My voice went up and sang in the sky.
And now all those lands lie under the wave,
And I walk in Ambaró na, in Tauremorna, in Aldaló më.
In my own land, in the country of Fangorn,
Where the roots are long.
And the years lie thicker than the leaves
In Taremornaló më.
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