Best Christopher Lee Movie Villains, Ranked

There are few actors in the history of cinema who have embodied the face of villainy quite like Christopher Lee. During his incredible 244 screen credits in films and TV shows, the great British actor has portrayed villains from literature, fantasy, science fiction, Shakespeare and some of the most popular franchises. popular all the time. Lee has been in more on-screen sword fights than any other actor, and has the incredible record of appearing in two Best Picture Oscar winners 55 years apart: 1948 Hamlet and 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Lee would have celebrated his 100th birthday in May, but he tragically passed away in 2015. Lee was certainly active until the later stages of his career, appearing in the latest episode of peter jacksonit’s The Hobbit trilogy only a few months before his death. A veteran of Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II, Lee entered the film industry in the late 1940s. He first gained worldwide recognition through his work in Hammer’s horror films, where he often appeared alongside his friend Peter Cushing. Several generations of moviegoers know Lee by his many faces, and he left a great legacy behind. Here are the seven greatest villains played by Christopher Lee, ranked.


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7. Doctor Catheter, Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Gremlins 2 Christopher Lee
Image via Warner Bros.

Lee has played mythical monsters, serial killers, assassins and Sith lords, but in Gremlins 2: The New Batch he captured a truly terrifying evil: the corrupt pharmaceutical industry. In Joe DanteThe wild and satirical sequel to his popular monster movie, Lee plays the madman Dr. Cushing Catheter, who uses his vast resources to perform cruel and unusual experiments on furry Gremlins. Who could be bad enough to harm Gizmo? Lee is so over the top he doesn’t make the movie feel like too dark, but it brings just the right amount of menace to capture Dante’s unique blend of horror and comedy.

6. Frankenstein’s Monster, Frankenstein’s curse (1957)

Christopher Lee The Curse of Frankenstein
Image via Hammer Film Productions

There have been countless adaptations of the Frankenstein story, but the Hammer Film Productions version of Lee’s frequent collaborator Terrence Fisher is one of the few that captures the tragic nature of Mary Shelleythe original source material. In Frankenstein’s curse, Peter Cushing portrays the titular character as a curious and sensitive researcher, not the “mad scientist” he has become in the pulpier adaptations. Lee obviously had the physical prowess to play the monster, but he brought out the humanity of a confused creature that turned against its creator. Compared to Hammer’s other horror films which opted for more sensationalist approaches, Frankenstein’s curse is methodically paced and refrains from showing too much gore.

5.Francisco Scaramanga, The man with the golden gun (1974)

Picture via EON

The man with the golden gun is part of Ian Flemingthe best James Bond novels; it centers on titular antagonist Francisco Scaramanga, a dark mirror of 007 who becomes obsessed with tracking down the MI6 agent. Unfortunately, the 1974 film version failed to live up to the potential of the source material, as Roger MooreThe character’s comedic approach didn’t fit what could have been a darker Bond story. That being said, Lee pretty much saves the movie with his terrifying portrayal of Scaramanga. Amid frequent goofy jokes, Lee still manages to craft a hulking psychopath as ruthless as he’s a 007 fanatic. It’s ironic that one of the worst Bond movies features one of the best villains.

4. Count Dooku, The star wars Franchise (2002-2008)

Count Dooku Star Wars Christopher Lee
Image via Lucasfilm

Although the star wars The prequel trilogy didn’t spend much time developing its villains, Lee brought depth to Darth Sidious’ second apprentice (Ian McDiarmid). Count Dooku, a former Jedi master who also goes by the Sith name of Darth Tyrannus, is given a fascinating story. once the mentor of Liam Neesonof Qui-Gon Jinn, Dooku left the Jedi Order to lead the separatist movement and reclaim his family fortune. He tries to deceive Ewan McGregorof Obi-Wan Kanobi to join the dark side and brutalizes Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) by cutting off his arm. Dooku appears as the main antagonist in 2002 attack of the clonesbut he is betrayed in 2005 Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine encourages Anakin to behead him. Lee returned to voice the character again in the 2008 spin-off animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

3. Count Dracula, Dracula’s Horror (1958)

Image via Hammer Films Productions

According to Guinness Book of World Records, Count Dracula appeared in more films than any other fictional character. It says a lot about Lee that his version is among the most iconic. In the best of Lee, Cushing and Fischer’s Hammer horror films, Dracula’s Horror shows Doctor Van Helsing’s first encounter with his nemesis. Helsing is invited to stay at his Transylvania mansion by the elusive Count. Hammer films often featured long takes with elaborate sets, so all performances had to be larger than life. Lee finds charisma alluring in the character of Dracula, but he’s still able to chew the scenery once his bloodthirsty intentions are revealed. It was the first of his nine performances as the character.

2. Lord Summerisle, The wicker man (1973)

Image via Rialto

Compared to the larger-than-life monsters Lee is best known for, The wicker manLord Summerisle is a more subtle evil. In the 1973 cult classic horror film, Police Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) investigates the disappearance of a young girl by traveling to the enigmatic and isolated island of Summerisle. He discovers that the townspeople are obsessed with pagan symbols and that the deranged lord of the community performs wild ceremonies of human sacrifice. Lee showed the danger of a charismatic leader who pretends to be bound by tradition. Needless to say, in the derided 2006 remake of the film starring Nicholas Cagenone of the antagonists could surpass Lee’s legendary performance.

1. Saruman, The the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

Christopher Lee as Saruman in The Return of the King, Extended Edition

Lee has often admitted that he is a big fan of JRR Tolkienthe novels he read the entire trilogy once a year; Lee claimed the fantasy epic was among the greatest works of fiction ever written, and personally contacted Peter Jackson when the film adaptation went into production. Lee’s unparalleled knowledge of Middle-earth was a huge plus for the production. As the corrupt wizard Lord Saruman turns against Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Lee showed how an ancient hero could fall under the influence of evil. Saruman’s duel with Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring is one of the best action sequences of the three films. Although Saruman’s death was unfortunately cut from the theatrical version of Return of the Kingthe full footage is included in the extended edition and gives Lee a proper send off.

RIP Christopher Lee dies at 93

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