Paris-born actor Michael Lonsdale, who starred as the villain Hugo Drax in the James Bond film Moonraker and appeared in a variety of foreign-language features has passed away at 89. Word of his death was shared by his agent, Olivier Loiseau, who says the actor died Monday at his home in Paris, France.
Known for playing a raft of intriguing characters throughout his storied career, Lonsdale appeared in such notable films as director James Ivory‘s JEFFERSON IN PARIS, John Frankenheimer‘s RONIN, Stephen Spielberg’s MUNICH as well as Xavier Beauvois’ award-winning historical drama OF GODS AND MEN, for which he’d received a Cesar for his portrayal of the Trappist monk Brother Luc.
While Lonsdale had delivered any number of stand-out performances throughout his Hollywood tenure, it was his Bond villain Hugo Drax that gave the actor staying power among pop culture enthusiasts. Lonsdale’s Drax was a particularly fiendish foe for Bond, whose attempt to poison the people of Earth still stands as one of the franchise’s most insidious plots for world domination. Once he’d set his plan into motion, it was Drax’s desire to repopulate the planet using people he has selected to live on his space station. Obviously, you don’t get anymore Hilter-like than that, and so Bond absolutely needed to snuff him out.
“He is such a terrible character, a sort of Nazi,” said Lonsdale in a 2012 interview. “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.”
Drax was a mad character indeed, and one that will be cherished by Bond fans across the globe for generations to come.
Among so many losses this year, it stings all the more to say farewell to someone like Michael Lonsdale. It’s small comfort, but at least we have his impressive catalog of films to remember him by. May Mr. Lonsdale find comfort in his eternal peace, and may we all keep his memory alive by sharing his greatest films with those we hold dear.