Peter Jackson has penned a heartfelt tribute to his friend and ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ star Sir Christopher Lee, who recently passed away at the age of 93.
The New Zealand filmmaker took to Facebook to say goodbye to the legendary actor who he had grown up a fan of, and to whom he came to be a personal friend in the later years of his life.
Jackson told Facebook followers, “It is with tremendous sadness that I learnt of the passing of Sir Christopher Lee. He was 93 years old, had not been in his usual good health for some time, but his spirit remained, as always, indomitable.
“Christopher spoke seven languages; he was in every sense, a man of the world; well versed in art, politics, literature, history and science. He was scholar, a singer, an extraordinary raconteur and of course, a marvelous actor. One of my favourite things to do whenever I came to London would be to visit with Christopher and Gitte where he would regale me for hours with stories about his extraordinary life.
“I loved to listen to them and he loved to tell them - they were made all the more compelling because they were true - stories from his time with the SAS, through the Second World War, to the Hammer Horror years and later, his work with Tim Burton - of which he was enormously proud.I was lucky enough to work with Chris on five films all told and it never ceased to be a thrill to see him on set.”
Lee had been a unique boon for Jackson’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films, for on top of being a time-honoured screen icon, he was an aficionado of JRR Tolkien’s work, and the only person on set to have actually met Tolkien in person.
When it came to ‘The Hobbit’ films, so great was Jackson’s desire to keep Lee as part of the production that the director came to London to shoot Lee’s scenes there, rather than make the ailing actor fly to New Zealand.
Jackson goes on, “I remember him saying on my 40th Birthday (he was 80 at the time), “You’re half the man I am”. Being half the man Christopher Lee is, is more than I could ever hope for. He was a true gentleman, in an era that no longer values [gentlemen].
“I grew up loving Christopher Lee movies. For most of my life I was enthralled by the great iconic roles he not only created - but continued to own decades later. But somewhere along the way Christopher Lee suddenly, and magically, dissolved away and he became my friend, Chris. And I loved Chris even more.
“There will never be another Christopher Lee. He has a unique place in the history of cinema and in the hearts of millions of fans around the world.The world will be a lesser place without him in it.
“My deepest sympathies to Gitte and to his family and friends.Rest in peace, Chris.An icon of cinema has passed into legend.”
Picture Credit: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros/MGM-UA