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Michael Lonsdale (1931–2020), played Bond villain Hugo Drax in “Moonraker”

by Linnea Crowther

Michael Lonsdale was a French actor whose notable roles included Hugo Drax, the villain in the 1979 James Bond film “Moonraker.”

Acting career

Lonsdale’s acting career took place largely in Europe, where he appeared in dozens of movies, TV shows, and stage productions. Yet he worked with legendary U.S. filmmakers as well, including Orson Welles (1915 – 1985) in one of Lonsdale’s earliest films, “The Trial” (1962). After starring in the fourth James Bond film to feature Roger Moore (1927 – 2017) as the famed spy, Lonsdale had notable roles in films including “The Name of the Rose” (1986), The Merchant Ivory film “The Remains of the Day” (1993), John Frankenheimer’s “Ronin” (1998), Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” (2005), and “Of Gods and Men” (2010). Lonsdale provided the voice of Hugo Drax for the 2012 video game “007 Legends.”

Lonsdale on why he enjoyed playing Drax

“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 theatre, 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. 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.” —from a 2012 interview with MI6-HQ.com

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Tributes to Michael Lonsdale

Full obituary: CNN

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