Christopher Lee is mostly famous for his portrayals of villains in Dracula and J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings as Saruman. He's become an icon on the big screen, but the truth is: his life is even more epic than his movies.
Christopher Lee was born in 1922 in Belgravia, London, an Italian contessa and a British army officer, he was educated privately and join the Royal Air Force in 1940 when he turned 18, attaining the rank of flight lieutenant. Before the United Kingdom joined the conflict, Lee had already worked with Finland in their Winter War against the Russians as a volunteer.
He then was attached to the prosecutor of the SAS (Special Air Services) known as the Long-range Desert Group, in North Africa. He became an intelligence officer and performed up to 5 missions a day.
'I was attached to the SAS from time to time but we are forbidden – former, present, or future – to discuss any specific operations. Let's just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read into that what they like,' he said in 2011.
Among his numerous victories, he helped to retake Sicily thanks to his expertise on Russia, survived malaria six times and climbed the Mt. Vesuvius just days before it blew its top off.
During the war, he moved from the LRDP to Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executives, whose missions are, to this day, classified. When asked on the matter, Christopher's answer is a little chilling:
'I’ve seen many men die right in front of me – so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise, we would never have won.'
On a more positive note, Christopher Lee also had an incredible opera-trained voice and made a heavy metal album Charlamagne: By The Sword and the Cross, which got him a 'spirit of Metal' award.