Speed Reads


That time Christopher Lee, former Nazi hunter, told Peter Jackson what a man sounds like when he's stabbed in the back

Long before he embarked on his illustrious acting career, Christopher Lee, who died on Sunday, was a member of the British Special Forces in World War II, a unit that engaged in acts of espionage and subterfuge against the Third Reich, including blowing up bridges, disrupting supply lines, and, yes, killing Nazis.

It turns out his experiences in warfare came in handy in the filming of The Lord of the Rings, when his character Saruman was stabbed in the back by Grima Wormtongue in a scene that was not included in the theatrical release. As director Peter Jackson explained in the movie's DVD commentary, he tried to get Lee to scream as he was stabbed, only to be corrected. "Have you any idea what kind of noise happens when somebody's stabbed in the back?" Lee said he asked Jackson. "Because I do." (For the record, it's more of a gasp because "the breath is driven out of your body," according to Lee.)

Jackson added, "He proceeded to sort of talk about some very clandestine part of World War II... He seemed to have expert knowledge of exactly the sort of noise that they make so I didn't push the subject any further."