Michael Lonsdale, a giant of the silver screen and theater in France who worked with some of the world’s top directors in an acting career that spanned 60 years, died on Monday, his agent said.
He was 89.
From his role as the 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.
“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
The child of a French mother and British father, Lonsdale, with a soft voice and beard, was a man consumed by his art.
He made more than 100 films and performed on stage.
RIP to one of my favs, the great Michael Lonsdale, one of the best Bond villains as Hugo Drax in MOONRAKER, and wonderful as well in DAY OF THE JACKAL, in the mighty RONIN and as “Papa” the arms dealer living in bucolic France in MUNICH, to name but four great performances pic.twitter.com/9ODGmFTlGG
— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) September 21, 2020
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, told The Associated Press.
“It was kind of expected,” said Loiseau, of the Aartis agency, who recently spoke with Lonsdale by phone. “His spirit was alive but his body was tired.”
Lonsdale was a man of faith and played several roles reflecting his Christian beliefs.
RIP Michael Lonsdale, French cinema’s lion-maned sage whose eyes always sparkled with intelligence and jest. pic.twitter.com/UipqR7IhEB
— Boyd van Hoeij (@filmboyd) September 21, 2020
He was monk Brother Luc in the real-life drama “Of Gods and Men,” destined to die with fellow monks at the hands of Islamist extremists.
He also played a priest in 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.
“I give myself a reason. It’s life.”
Lonsdale never married and had no children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.
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