Christopher Lee talks to Xav about making Jinnah in a special interview with Close-up Film.
Did you know much about Jinnah before you played the role and why do you think you were chosen for it?
Yes, because in partition in 1947 I was twenty five years old and I spent five years in the Second World war occasionally with Indian troops.
Does it bear any resemblance to any role you've played before?
No. I've played lots of historical characters, but I've never played a role like that.
How did you find shooting on location in Pakistan?
I thought it was wonderful because of the reception I got from everyone. They were fantastic. There was a man who interviewed me first... who almost implied that everywhere I went people were objecting. Which couldn't be more untrue. It was the exact opposite. There was one newspaper that attacked us everyday. We found out that the editor of that paper wanted to play the part!
What was it like making a relatively low budget film compared to the high-gloss Hollywood blockbusters you've been used to?
It doesn't make the slightest difference to me. I've made films for nothing. I've been in two, if not three films in which I got paid nothing at all because they couldn't afford it. But the story was so good. The part was so good. Everybody else was so good. The notable one of course, being The Wicker Man. Well, I got zero payment on that. Nothing. Never will get anything. It doesn't bother me.
Did you enjoy working with other great British actors James Fox and Maria Aitken?
Great. Well, I had very little to do with Maria Aitken, because it was only really in the dinner party where I was involved with her. I've seen her of course for several years, in theatre and films. She's a very fine actress. And James of course, it was the first time I'd met him. I knew his father, very well, Robin. And I'd made a couple of films with his brother, Edward. But I'd never ever made a film with James. He's an absolutely delightful man and he gives a wonderful performance.
How do you think Jinnah is portrayed in the film Gandhi?
Jinnah barely appears, and when he does, he's portrayed as a sort of malignant demon, threatening civil war; which of course is total, absolute nonsense. It was a complete perversion of the character. Complete. But they did it. I thought the Gandhi in our film was the best one I'd ever seen.
What do you think it means to be a Muslim?
It does not mean terrorism or killing. Islam means submission to the will of God. It's as simple as that.