Finding oneself opposite a tall, baleful celluloid vampire would have most people reaching for a head of the most pungent Spanish garlic, a large crucifix or a sharp stake.
The Prince of Wales, however, opted for a ceremonial sword, even as the 1.95-metre vision of Count Dracula leaned worryingly close to the royal neck. Fortunately, the Prince had little to fear. Christopher Lee — a.k.a. Counts Dracula and Dooku, not to mention Lord Summerisle and the Duc de Richleau — had been invited to Buckingham Palace on Friday to receive a knighthood for his services to drama and to charity.
The 87-year-old is one of cinema’s most prolific actors, appearing in more than 250 films over the course of a career that has so far spanned 61 years.
After making his name by poking blood-red contact lenses into his eyes and false fangs into his gums for a series of Hammer Horror films, Mr. Lee went on to play the urbane laird of the pagan manor in The Wicker Man and the bounteously nippled, bling-packing assassin Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun.
More recently, the actor has lent his imposing frame and limpid tones to the roles of the evil Middle Earth wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings, and the evil space wizard Count Dooku in the final two Star Wars films.
Mr. Lee will next be seen in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, in which he plays the Jabberwock. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2009