Website last updated: 7-5-2024

In Memoriam: Anglo-French actor Michael Lonsdale 1931-2020

By: Mark Cerulli
Michael Lonsdale Hugo Drax Moonraker
Hot on the heels of losing lovely Dame Diana Rigg, the Bond World now mourns another iconic passing – Anglo-French actor Michael Lonsdale, 89. He played the larger than life villain, Sir Hugo Drax in 1979’s Moonraker, opposite Sir Roger Moore, directed by Lewis Gilbert.

FSWL supporter and friend Anne Lönnberg, the museum guide and one of the Drax girls in Moonraker, after hearing the news of Michael's passing:

“My most vivid memory of Michael was on the train going up to Brussels for a TV interview. I sat opposite him and the entire time we talked of anything but cinema: Religion (very important in his life), literature, philosophy, Buddhism, the afterlife (!)... It was 2 hours of rich conversation with a deeply intelligent and sensitive man.

And, years and years later, in England for a signing event (5 years ago) I was waiting in front of the elevator at the hotel. The doors opened, and there he was, flanked by 2 friends/helpers. Stooped, long white beard, he looked like a wise sage. He stepped out, looked up at me. “Anne!” was all he said. And his eyes twinkled.

How he recognized me I still wonder today.”

Beatrice Libert, Anne Lönnberg, Michael Lonsdale and Blanche Ravalec during a press conference for Moonraker in Brussels 1979
Beatrice Libert, Anne Lönnberg, Michael Lonsdale and Blanche Ravalec during a press conference for Moonraker in Brussels 1979.

About Michael Lonsdale

A veteran of almost 200 films, Michael Lonsdale made movies like Day of the Jackal, Remains of the Day, The Holcroft Covenant, Chariots of Fire and The Name of the Rose (with Sir Sean Connery). In 2005, he starred with the current James Bond actor Daniel Craig in the thriller Munich directed by Steven Spielberg.

In Moonraker, Lonsdale played a sophisticated and refined villain – mirroring his real life persona: the actor was fluently bilingual( French and English) and had studied painting. He counted playwrights and authors among his friends and appeared in projects with many other stars of the Bond orbit – Gert Fröbe, Max Von Sydow, Sean Bean, Jonathan Pryce, Mathieu Almaric and Javier Bardem. After Christiopher Lee’s death in 2015, he was the oldest living Bond villain.

In 2006 he explained why he made the Bond classic – “I did Moonraker because I like being where you don’t expect to see me. I was always told ‘You don’t make commercial films.’ So I said ‘You will see!” Five hundred million spectators is not bad.”

No sir, not at all. RIP, Michael Lonsdale. Merci.



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