21 September 2020 18:32
Image copyright Michael Ochs Archives Image caption Michael Lonsdale played Hugo Drax in Moonraker Anglo-French actor Michael Lonsdale, who played the villain opposite Roger Moore's James Bond in the 1979 film Moonraker, has died at the age of 89. In the film, he played Hugo Drax, an industrialist planning to poison all humans on Earth then repopulate the planet from his space station. It was one of more than 200 roles he played in both English and French over a career that spanned six decades. His other film credits included The Day of the Jackal, Ronin and Munich. Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli called Lonsdale an "extraordinarily talented actor and a very dear friend".
The official Twitter account for the late Sir Roger Moore described his character as "a smooth-tongued and cultured adversary to 007". In an interview with Mi6 HQ in 2012, Lonsdale was asked whether he had been concerned that playing a Bond villain might have a negative impact on his career. "Because, I made so many films that were not really very popular or didn't make much money, and I only made poor films, so I thought I might like to be in a rich film." 'Drax is like Hitler' In the same interview, he said: "My teacher, when I was at school for the theatre, told me that 'One day you will have to play someone very nasty.' "But really, he is such a terrible character, a sort of Nazi. I mean, Drax is like Hitler. He wanted to destroy everybody and rain down a new order of very athletic, young people...
The César-winning actor appeared in films by François Truffaut and Alain Resnais, and played religious figures in Of Gods and Men and The Name of the Rose Michael Lonsdale, the French-British actor whose best known role was the villain Drax in Moonraker but who also appeared in a string of films by auteur directors such as François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Alain Resnais, has died aged 89. Lonsdale's agent, Olivier Loiseau, confirmed to Agence France-Presse that the actor had died at his home in Paris. Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson said in a statement: "He was an extraordinarily talented actor and a very dear friend. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time." Born in 1931 to a British military officer and his French-Irish wife, Lonsdale and his family spent the second world war years in French-controlled Morocco, before moving to Paris in 1947. Originally hoping to be a painter, Lonsdale studied acting with Tania Balachova, and began performing in the 1950s. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Creepy … Lonsdale as villain Drax in Moonraker. His bilingual abilities allowed him to take roles in both French and English-speaking films: early roles included a priest in Orson Welles's adaptation of The Trial (1962) and resistance member Jacques Debû-Bridel in René Clément's Is Paris Burning? In 1968 he achieved a breakthrough with two Truffaut films: The Bride Wore Black and Stolen Kisses. In the former, he plays one of the men killed by Jeanne Moreau in revenge for her husband's death, and in the latter a shoe-shop owner whose wife Antoine Doinel falls in love with. Lonsdale then made inroads into mainstream Anglo-American cinema, playing the investigator on the trail of Edward Fox's hitman in The Day of the Jackal (1973), and in 1979 the creepy Hugo Drax in the Bond blockbuster Moonraker, alongside Roger Moore. Facebook Twitter Pinterest César winner … Lonsdale, right, with Lambert Wilson in Of Gods and Men. His distinctive appearance and voice ensured he was cast in a wide variety of roles, including a masochist in Luis Buñuel's The Phantom of Liberty (1974), embassy attache Anton Grigoriev in the 1982 TV series Smiley's People and a French diplomat in the Merchant Ivory drama The Remains of the Day (1993). Lonsdale was a devout Catholic, having been baptised at 22 and joining the Charismatic Renewal movement in the 1980s. He would go on to play a string of religious figures, including the abbot in the successful adaption of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (1986) and a Trappist monk in Of Gods and Men (2010), for which Lonsdale won a best supporting actor César. Michael Lonsdale, a giant of the silver screen and theatre in France who worked with some of the world's top directors in an acting career that spanned 60 years, has died, his agent said. From his role as villain in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker to that of a French monk in Algeria in the 2011 movie Of Gods And Men, Lonsdale acted, often in brilliant second roles, under top directors including Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Francois Truffaut and Louis Malle. The child of a French mother and British father, Lonsdale, with soft voice, was a man consumed by his art. He made more than 100 films and performed on stage. Actors Michael Lonsdale, Roger Moore and Richard Kiel, aka Hugo Drax, James Bond and Jaws, at London's Heathrow Airport (PA) His final performance was in a short film last year for the Opera of Paris, Degas Et Moi (Degas And Me). Lonsdale died peacefully at his Paris home of old age, his agent of 20 years, Olivier Loiseau, said. "His spirit was alive but his body was tired," said Mr Loiseau, of the Aartis agency, who recently spoke with Lonsdale by phone. Michael Lonsdale (Jacques Brinon/AP) Lonsdale was a man of faith and played several roles reflecting his Christian beliefs, from monk Brother Luc in the real-life drama Of Gods And Men, destined to die with fellow monks at the hands of Islamist extremists or a priest in Orson Welles' 1962 film The Trial. The French daily Le Parisien quotes him as saying in an interview in 2016 that he had no anxiety about dying. "It's life." Lonsdale never married and had no children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known. ACTOR Michael Lonsdale has died at the age of 89. Michael was known for playing villain Hugo Drax in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker opposite Roger Moore. 7 Michael Lonsdale played the villain alongside Roger Moore in Moonraker The actor died at his home in Paris, his agent Olivier Loiseau confirmed. Lonsdale played an industrialist planning to poison all humans on Earth before repopulating the planet from his space station in the iconic Bond film. He had an acting career that spanned over six decades, playing roles in film, TV, radio and on stage. Lonsdale appeared in over 200 roles in both English and French languages. 7 The British-French actor has died Credit: AFP or licensors 7 His career spanned over six decades Credit: AFP or licensors 7 Lonsdale died at the age of 89 Credit: AFP or licensors 7 Michael Lonsdale (far right) at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975 Credit: AFP or licensors 7 The actor played over 200 roles in his career Credit: AFP or licensors Michael Lonsdale, the French actor with a far-ranging film and theatre career but most widely recognised as the villain opposite James Bond in "Moonraker", died on Monday aged 89, his agent told AFP. Lonsdale, who was bilingual, chalked up more than 200 roles in both languages over a six-decade career that also included numerous television and radio performances. With his silky yet imposing voice and a distinctive goatee, Lonsdale often served up memorable performances that stuck with viewers even when only in minor roles. His agent, Olivier Loiseau, said he had died at his home in Paris, the city where he was born on May 24, 1931, to an English military officer and a French mother. Arguably the highlight of his career came when he played a Trappist monk in "Of Gods and Men" in 2010. Based on true events, the film tells the story of seven French monks who were murdered after being kidnapped from their monastery in Algeria in 1996 during the country's civil war. For the role Lonsdale won his first and only Cesar award – France's version of the Oscars – for best supporting actor in 2011. Yet for millions of people he was the sadistic industrialist Hugo Drax in the 1979 Bond film "Moonraker" starring Roger Moore, with a plan to destroy Earth's population with nerve gas while he escaped into space. (FRANCE 24 with AFP) Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning Subscribe