Michael Lonsdale, Distinguished 'Day of the Jackal' Star and 'Moonraker' Bond Villain, Dies at 89September 22, 2020
Michael Lonsdale, the distinguished and prolific actor who played Bond villain Hugo Drax in Moonraker, has died at 89.
The British-French actor passed away at his home in Paris, Lonsdale's agent confirmed to Agence France-Presse, reports The Guardian.
Lonsdale, whose acting career spanned more than 60 years, appeared in more than 180 films and TV series, mainly in French productions. His other high-profile English-speaking roles included the classic 1973 thriller The Day of the Jackal, in which he played a French police commissioner on the hunt for a professional assassin called the Jackal (Edward Fox), who has been hired to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle.
He also had supporting roles in the 1993 drama The Remains of the Day alongside Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, the 1998 Robert de Niro thriller Ronin, and the 2005 historical thriller Munich, directed by Steven Spielberg.
On Twitter, Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli described him as "an extraordinarily talented actor and a very dear friend."
An account run by the estate of Sir Roger Moore described Lonsdale's Bond villain as a "smooth-tongued and cultured adversary" to Moore's 007.
Asked in 2012 what had attracted him to the role of Hugo Drax, Lonsdale told Bond fan site MI6 HQ: "Well, I'm half French, half English. My father was English, my mother was French, so I suppose I had a duality. My teacher, when I was at school for the theater, 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," Lonsdale continued. "I mean, Drax is like Hitler. He wanted to destroy everybody and rain down a new order of very athletic young people...he was mad completely."
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, who like Lonsdale has worked in British, American, and French films, hailed him as "marvellous" in an Instagram tribute.
Later in his career, Lonsdale won a César Award – the top prize in French cinema – for his performance as a Trappist monk in 2010's Of Gods and Men, a highly acclaimed film exploring religious conflict in Algeria. He took on his final acting jobs in 2016.
Rest in Peace, Michael Lonsdale, and thank you for your stellar contribution.