Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Imagine finding yourself standing face to face with Count Dracula…the most famous vampire in the world whose appearances on the silver screen terrified us, where we have seen him emerging from his coffin and drinking the blood of his victims.
That’s right I met Count Dracula, or rather the English actor Christopher Lee who famously portrayed this role. This meeting took place at the home of my friend Hatim Seif al-Nasr, who is the Egyptian ambassador to the UK, during a dinner party held by the ambassador and his wife and which was attended by a number of high-profile English figures from the political, entertainment, and even archeological fields. There were around 30 figures attending this dinner party when I received a big surprise which was Christopher Lee entering the Egyptian embassy which itself resembles the castle or fortress that Count Dracula lived in. This put me in mind of Christopher Lee playing this role, which he did so for the first time in 1958 [in the Hammer Horror film Dracula]. Christopher Lee entered the room leaning on a walking stick, and despite the fact that he was born in London on 27 May 1922 he still has the characteristics of youth. He laughed when I asked his wife “How have you been able to live all of these long years with Count Dracula, especially as he’s a Gemini?” I joked that I was also born under this astrological sign, and that people accuse Gemini’s of having two different characters, but that despite this we have good qualities and love people.
She smiled happily and did not respond.
I was seated next to Christopher Lee at dinner, and this was an opportunity for me to get to know this great actor. Christopher Lee attending Wellington College and served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, and after the end of the war he turned to acting, where he appeared in dozens of [Hammer Horror] films where he played the role of Dracula. These films are among the first horror films, and gave birth to a genre of films and literature of looking at the lives of vampires and werewolves.
The last Dracula film that Christopher Lee appeared in was Dracula AD that was released in 1972. Christopher Lee has appeared in other fantastic films, such as “Lord of the Rings” and “Stars Wars: Episode II.” Christopher Lee is a fan of archeology and antiquities, and he told me that he follows up on all documentaries about ancient Egypt whether they appear on American or English channels. He also talked about his love of mummies, and I joked with him that perhaps he was influenced in this by playing the role of a mummy in the film “The Mummy” which was released in 1959.
We also spoke about Omar Sharif, and I told him “Omar Sharif is one of my closest friends; whenever he is in Cairo we are inseparable. He [Omar Sharif] has the same sparkle in his eyes that you have…a sparkle of stardom.” Christopher Lee then told me a story about the film that he did with Omar Sharif in 1995, which is the film “The Rainbow Thief” which was released in 1990, and in which Christopher Lee plays the role of Uncle Rudolf, and Omar Sharif played the role of Dima.
This is the story of my meeting with Count Dracula, and the pleasant conversation that we had. I invited Christopher Lee to visit Egypt, and I told him that despite the fact that you have visited Egypt hundreds of times this visit will be different because we’ll show you our most recent archeological discoveries, and you will visit magical places that unfortunately are not on the tourist maps…
After dinner was over I returned to my hotel room, during the night I awoke to terrible nightmares of Count Dracula breaking out of his coffin and walking through a cemetery dressed all in black, his eyes hidden in the shadows.
Do you wish to meet Dracula? If so, then you must come to Cairo.