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Veronica Carlson got her first big break in Hammer’s Dracula Has Risen from the Dead.
Carlson, a fan of the British production company, skipped school to see their films. When the casting call went out, she specifically asked to audition for the Dracula role and, to her surprise, got it.
But would the great Christopher Lee live up to her expectations?
“When I first met Christopher at a script read through at Pinewood Studios, what amazed me about him was his easygoing behavior,” she recalled. “He couldn’t have been more down to earth.”
While getting ready, Lee sang opera and sometimes spoke in several different languages. He even let her try on his red cape, which she thought weighted approximately 30 pounds.
But what impressed Carlson the most was his character.
At one point, Carlson panicked about a close-up. Since Lee wasn't required for the shot, a stand-in replaced him. But as her nerves grew worse, Lee stepped in and did the scene with her, giving the moment everything he had as though the camera were on him. The kind gesture helped Carlson feel at ease and complete the scene.
“After the production was completed, Christopher invited me and a mutual friend to dinner at his beautiful home, another gesture one doesn’t expect from a star.”
However, despite his charming demeanor, he could still be the villainous vampire when he needed to be.
“I looked up, and there he was staring down at me with those red eyes of his,” she recalled. “I felt as though I were looking at the real Dracula.”