The most recognizable villains in cinema history populate the Star Wars Saga. Transcending their science fiction origins, they stand as indefatigable pillars of evil, both jeered for their tyranny and secretly cheered for their wicked manipulations. Villains like Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul, and Kylo Ren all left their mark on the Saga for various reasons. Their memorable presence, their stylish aesthetic, or their ability to make even a Sith Lord seem sympathetic are all impactful. No person best exemplifies the qualities that make a great villain like the elegantly duplicitous Count Dooku.
Born to nobility and once a highly regarded Jedi Master, Dooku foreshadowed Anakin Skywalker's fall from grace long before Revenge of the Sith. A political idealist, The Sith Path offered him a means to correct wrongs he saw in the galaxy and a means to facilitate the destruction of a corrupt Republic. He gained abilities that surpassed even Master Yoda while under the tutelage of Darth Sidious. Dooku earned the distinction of being one of the most "human" and complex villains in Star Wars. Here's why.
10 SIR CHRISTOPHER LEE PLAYS DOOKU
With over 240 films to his name, a knighthood and ranking as the Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the dramatic arts, Sir Christopher Lee was a remarkable veteran of the stage and screen with a career lasting 70 years.
With such high-profile villain roles as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun, not to mention playing Count Dracula in over a dozen adaptations for Hammer Studios, there was no better suited thespian to capture the grandeur, sophistication, and mystery of Count Dooku. Did we mention he spoke 5 languages, and was part of Special Forces during WWII tasked with hunting down Nazi war criminals?
9 HE UNDERSTANDS POLITICS
Dooku saw the political corruption and bureaucratic squabbling throughout the Republic as a virus that needed to be purged. His distaste for the Republic’s political agendas, often stagnated by political chicanery, began when he was a member of the Jedi Council, under the tutelage of Master Yoda.
Dooku imparted his cautionary ideology to his apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn before ultimately leaving the Jedi Order. He saw the Jedi had already been used as political pawns by debased and greedy politicians unwilling to fight their own battles. Dooku became the Head of State of the Confederacy of Independent Systems when he foresaw the need for planets to withdraw from the Republic altogether.
8 HE UNDERSTANDS THE POWER OF WEALTH
Dooku was born into an aristocratic family from Serenno. It was a planet in the Outer Rim that became a member of the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Separatist Revolt and Clone Wars. He abdicated his wealth and lands to join the Jedi Order, but reclaimed them once he found the Jedi to be misguided and archaic.
The ascetic lifestyle of the Jedi never sat well with Dooku, who had a penchant for the finer things in life. As a Sith Lord, he could have power and enjoy material possessions, like his cliff-side manor home. He understood that power comes from wealth, and his holdings drew more systems to the Separatist Movement.
7 HE KNOWS THE JEDI'S WEAKNESSES
As a former Jedi, Count Dooku was very familiar with all of the ideologies of the Jedi Order and how they crippled individual thought in favor of mass indoctrination. He found them to be archaic and the opposite of progressive. As a political idealist, he couldn’t suffer the stagnation of the Senate and its endless debating. As a power-hungry elitist, he couldn’t stand those he felt were inferior to him telling him what to do.
The Sith way of life offered a perfect balance for Dooku with its unique philosophy that progress is born from chaos. It afforded him power quickly, without having to feign humility or concern for anyone he felt was undeserving.
6 HE HAS A WAY WITH WORDS
The villains in Star Wars are known for their memorable delivery of sinister dialogue. Darth Vader’s booming baritone when delivering taunts, Grand Moff Tarkin’s frank ruthlessness while issuing commands, Kylo Ren’s dramatic shouting, and Emperor Palpatine’s predictions dripping with condescension all shape the saga in a variety of intimidating ways.
But none of them have the stentorian diction of Count Dooku, who managed to make even the most merciless of orders sound charming. His mellifluous voice while taunting his opponents when locked in a duel added a melody to their percussive explosions, and elevated even the most inane of George Lucas’s prequel dialogue.
5 HE'S A POWERFUL SITH LORD
Due to his advanced age when we see him in Attack of the Clones, it’s difficult to imagine him as being as strong in the Dark Side of the Force as other Sith such as Darth Maul or Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. But as is often the case with younger Sith, their need for power combined with their lack of experience makes them vulnerable to mistakes.
If anything, Dooku should have been more feared because of his age. He hadn’t been defeated in battle and had only grown more powerful in the Dark Side. His every move was calculated and measured, with no wasted energy into machinations that didn’t bear fruit. His only failing, like all Sith, was letting his ego get the best of him.
4 HE'S GOT CLASS
Every villain in Star Wars has a distinct appearance and a unique style of dress that separates them from the rest. Darth Vader has his hulking suit of armor and intimidating black helmet. Kylo Ren has his black robes and mask. Grand Moff Tarkin has his finely pressed Imperial uniform. Emperor Palpatine/Lord Sidious has his mysterious robes.
Count Dooku’s appearance, like his comportment, is incredibly refined. He doesn’t wear a hooded cloak like a Sith, but a grand cape with a clasp. Dooku also posesses an elegant pistol-grip lightsaber which he salutes his enemies with before combat. He treats his enemies with respect and courtesy, even when they're his prisoners. His cultivated presence proves the Sith aren’t all destructive balls of rage.
3 HE'S AS POWERFUL AS MASTER YODA AND SIDIOUS
When Dooku faced off against Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and then Master Yoda, in Attack of the Clones, he utilized Force Lightning, an ability last seen by Star Wars fans in Return of the Jedi by the Emperor. To see an apprentice wield it with such ease showed how powerful the Sith really were.
Aside from Force Lightning, Dooku’s abilities included Telekinesis, Force Push to throw his enemies violently, Force Flight to levitate or float, Force Choke, Force Grip to immobilize his enemies, Force Deflection, Jedi Mind Tricks, Force Jump, Force Dash, and Taming Beasts. All of these abilities made him even more powerful than Master Yoda and on par with Emperor Palpatine.
2 HE'S A MASTER SWORDSMAN
Dooku was known, even in his days as a Jedi, to be an incredibly competent swordsman. As a Jedi, he was a master in Form II. Also known as Makashi, it was a more formal style of lightsaber combat that favored swift, decisive strokes and controlled movements over excessively intricate and florid varieties.
Dooku accompanied his swordplay with Dun Moch, the practice of taunting one’s opponent with mockery and jeers to break down their mental state and spiritual fortitude. The Sith utilized it as a form of psychological warfare. Dooku was a master at such verbal sparring. When paired with his lightsaber combat, it was devastatingly effective against Jedi who required concentration to use the Force.
1 HE'S COMPLEX
Unlike Darth Vader, who was drawn to the Sith for personal reasons, Dooku was given, despite his secondary role in the prequels, a “big picture” narrative to his fall from grace in the Jedi Order. He embraced the Sith for much of the same reason Anakin did: as a means to justify his writing of perceived wrongs in the galaxy, but on a much larger scale.
Dooku’s disillusionment surrounding the Jedi Order, the Republic, and the political machinations favored by the governing body existed because he was at his core an idealist. He couldn’t make big changes from within the Order, and so he was forced to the Sith Path to see his goals realized.