Before Christopher Lee was Saruman in the Lord of the Rings movies, he cut his teeth (pun intended), appearing in Hammer Horror movies playing Count Dracula. Lee would, of course, go on to have an incredible career appearing as Count Dooku in the Star Wars movies, he played Scaramanga in James Bond, and he even had his own metal band.
However, despite basically being Hollywood’s go-to actor for villainous roles, he did have one major regret. In the late ’70s, he was approached by a young up-and-coming director called John Carpenter, who wanted the horror veteran to appear in his new indie film, Halloween.
Carpenter had a character he believed would be perfect for Lee. He was called Doctor Loomis, a psychiatrist who’d dedicated himself to curing the murderous Michael Myers of his deviant behaviour but came to realise the boy was pure evil and could not be saved. Lee turned Carpenter down, and the role went to Donald Pleasance, but this ended up being a huge mistake.
Against a budget of less than half a million dollars, Halloween made an eye-watering $70 million at the box office, making it one of the most profitable indie movies ever made. The film received rave reviews as well and helped to establish the infant slasher genre.
In the documentary Halloween – A Cut Above the Rest, producer Debra Hill explains how she and Carpenter once ran into Lee long after their small indie film had gone on to become an entire horror franchise.
“Christopher Lee declined to do the role,” Hill said. “But it’s funny we ran into Lee at a party, and he said that ‘The biggest mistake I ever made of my career was not being in this movie.'”
Lee wasn’t the only one to decline the role. Peter Cushing, who played Tarkin in the first Star Wars movie, also declined something Carpenter still seems a little stung about in the documentary. If you love the Halloween movies, we have an article all about the final instalment Halloween Ends for you to enjoy.