Actor Christopher Lee, known for his roles as Count Dracula in the Hammer horror films, as well as performances in the Lord of the Rings series and Star Wars prequels, has died at the age of 93. Among Lee’s final roles was in the animated short film The Fall of the House of Usher directed by Raul Garcia. The short will be more widely seen in Garcia’s new anthology feature Extraordinary Tales, which will screen next week at the Annecy festival.
Garcia shared with Cartoon Brew some memories about working with Christopher Lee:
Working with Mr. Lee was a rare pleasure. He voiced the two characters in the film plus the narrator, a faithful adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s immortal horror story. His knowledge of Poe’s work gave his performance a special resonance.
I met Mr. Lee briefly and we recorded all the dialogue at his home, to make the task as easy as possible. We accommodated a complete recording studio in his kitchen, and recorded for two days. He was quite a sight to see: Sir Christopher Lee in his robe and slippers acting out in front of the mike.
At the beginning he was reluctant to reprise a role in a horror film, as he wanted to stay away from anything in that genre. He combed over every single line of dialogue wondering if it was faithful enough to Edgar Allan Poe’s original narration and quoting verbatim the original “Usher'”s story by memory.
But as soon he stood in front of the microphone, his attitude changed and he turned into the characters he was playing, morphing from a frail Roderick Usher to his stern childhood companion Frederick and later on into the straightforward narrator. He put me through the gauntlet to earn his trust.
Even if he was 89 when I made the recording, he was still pretty active, singing in a heavy metal band. His pet project was a heavy metal rock opera based on Charlemagne. After the recording we talked for hours about his illustrious career. He wasn’t very happy with his association with the character that defined his career—Dracula—and I could see an earnest desire in his later years of staying away from the horror genre. I was very proud he accepted to revisit it for my film.