Michael Lonsdale passed away Monday in his home in Paris at 89 years old. He was known for his roles in Moonraker and The Day of the Jackal.
Successful British-French actor Michael Lonsdale passed away at 89 years old. Lonsdale was born on May 21, 1934 in Paris. He was raised in England until returning to France to start a career in painting. Lonsdale discovered early on that acting was his true passion and went on to pursue an acting career that spanned over six decades. He played over 200 roles in both English and French films, with his most well-known credits include Moonraker, The Day of the Jackal, Ronin, and Munich.
He played one of the most infamous James Bond villains, Hugo Drax. While some actors may have shied away from playing such a nefarious role, Lonsdale jumped at the opportunity to play the Moonraker villain. He was excited to join a franchise with such a large name after performing in so many indie French films. Additionally, he supposedly had an instinct that he would play an extremely evil character at some point during his acting career. His high school teacher had reportedly told him that one day he would play a character who is “very nasty.” Lonsdale even put Drax on the same level of evil as Hitler. He predicted that such a complex role would be a big boost for his career— and it was.
According to BBC, Lonsdale the Moonraker actor passed away Monday at his home in Paris. His death has been confirmed by his agent although his cause of death is still unknown. He left a powerful legacy behind. In addition to over 180 films, he won France’s Cesar award for Best Supporting Actor in 2011 for his role in Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men. Additionally, Lonsdale was the oldest remaining Bond villain before his passing. The official James Bond Twitter account paid its respects with a message from producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, which can be seen below.
"We are very sad to learn of the passing of Michael Lonsdale, who played Hugo Drax in Moonraker. He was an extraordinarily talented actor and a very dear friend. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time” – Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. pic.twitter.com/oMepLcSP0d
— James Bond (@007) September 21, 2020
Many of his fans and former coworkers have left tributes to him on social media. His respective James Bond, Sir Roger Moore described him as “a smooth-tongued and cultured adversary to 007.” Other icons in the film industry like writer and filmmaker Jesse Hawken also left heartfelt tributes. It is apparent that Lonsdale was widely respected in the industry. Even though he played Drax over 40 years ago, he has become a significant and memorable villain in the Bond franchise.
Lonsdale was an incredible actor who clearly was in the field for the love of the craft over all else. He conquered an impressive number of roles during his ever-evolving career. He will be deeply missed not only by the Bond community but by Hollywood as a whole.