Christopher Lee: The real James Bond
“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.”
Christopher Lee was Ian Fleming’s cousin. Both were distantly related to Charlemagne - and Lee released a heavy metal album in the 80s named after his regal ancestor.
Christopher Lee has an illustrious military past. As well as fighting for the SAS (then known as the Special Operations Executive or SOE), he also volunteered to fight for Finland in the Winter War prior to WW2, during WW2 fought in North Africa, and saw the concentration camps first hand. After WW2, he spent time hunting Nazi war criminals.
It was on the set of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy that Peter Jackson and his crew were given a chilling hint of Lee’s past.
Filming a scene in Return of the King (seen only in the extended version), when Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif) stabs Saruman in the back on top of the tower, Christopher Lee corrected Peter Jackson on the fact that when a person is stabbed in the back of the chest, they do not scream (as the director wanted), in fact the air is pushed out of their lungs and they “groan” with an exhalation of air, very quietly, as their lungs have been punctured.
From Peter Jackson’s DVD commentary: “When I was shooting the stabbing shot with Christopher, as a director would, I was explaining to him what he should do… And he says, ‘Peter, have you ever heard the sound a man makes when he’s stabbed in the back?’ And I said, ‘Um, no.’ And he says ‘Well, I have, and I know what to do.’”
The crew said that they knew Christopher Lee had been in the British Royal Air Force Intelligence Service in World War Two, and they didn’t really push him for more information about how he knew in such detail exactly what noise a person makes when this is done to them.
He wouldn’t have told them anyway.
When pressed by an eager interviewer on his SAS past, he leaned forward and whispered: “Can you keep a secret?”
“Yes!” the interviewer replied, breathless with excitement.
“So can I.” replied a smiling Lee, sitting back in his chair.