Real Christopher Lee Was More Badass Than His LoTR Character

Real Christopher Lee Was More Badass Than His LoTR Character
Image credit: Legion-Media

Christopher Lee is most famous for playing villainous characters, including Dracula in various Hammer films, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, a Bond villain in The Man With The Golden Gun, and that guy who owns a wicker man in The Wicker Man.

But do you know that the actor renowned for playing dangerous men (or dangerous human-looking creatures) was himself quite a dangerous man in his earlier days, before he decided to pursue an acting career?

Well, perhaps not as dangerous as he liked others to believe – embellishment is an actor's bread and butter, after all. While it is often said on the Internet that during the World War II, Lee served in some special force group or another – Special Air Service (SAS), Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and Special Operations Executive (SOE) may be named – in reality he served in none.

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Christopher Lee joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) but wasn't allowed to fly because of a problem with his optic nerve, so he applied to join RAF Intelligence. As a part of his duties, he was attached to the SAS and SOE as a RAF liaison officer at various times between 1943 and 1945.

Certainly, his real service record was a fine one, and during his time with RAF he was under bombs, suffered from malaria multiple times, climbed Mount Vesuvius three days before it erupted, prevented a brewing mutiny in his squadron, and participated in hunting Nazi war criminals after the war.

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But he never actually was a part of any special force unit, and, as far as we can tell, did not do things usually associated with special force units, such as daring raids behind enemy lines. When asked about his wartime exploits, particularly late in his life, Lee liked to answer the questions in a fashion which did not involve actually making things up, but heavily implied that he was involved in more acts of heroism, that it actually did.

Asked about his service in an interview in 2011 he said: "Let's just say I was in special forces and leave it at that. People can read into that what they like."

Well, as could be expected, a number of people liked to read into that the assumption that their favorite actor was an ultra-badass commando in his youth. Surely, he was a badass, not many people can boast to accomplish all he did before they are 25 years old, just not to the extent it is sometimes believed.