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It's what you don't see that keeps you on the edge of your seat

Christopher Lee was born to play Dracula. Six foot five and with a deep sonorous voice, Lee played the vampire in 10 different Hammer Horror films.

But there was much more to the actor than that. By the age of 23, he was a Second World War veteran, having served as an RAF intelligence officer behind enemy lines. He alluded to having been attached the special forces.

The son of a Chanel model and an Army colonel, the Dracula star – who was knighted in 2009 – rarely spoke about his war years, but said that he’d witnessed enough real-life horror to be unfazed by make-believe.

In his film career, Sir Christopher – who spoke several languages – also appeared as the villainous Francisco Scaramanga in Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun.

“Making films has never just been a job to me; it is my life,” he said.

“I have some interests outside of acting - I sing and I've written books, for instance - but acting is what keeps me going: it's what I do; it gives life purpose.”

His favourite of his own films was 1960s horror The Wicker Man in which he played the sinister Lord Summerisle.

In later life, Lee’s career continued to thrive. He became a regular in Tim Burton films including Sleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

He also played Count Dooku in the final two Star Wars prequels and was memorable as dark wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In a career spanning 70 years, he appeared in well over 100 films.

“I am never going to stop playing the villain,” he said. “I would be foolish to do so because the audiences apparently enjoy watching me – and who am I to say no?”