One of the most iconic villains from the entire rogue’s gallery of the James Bond franchise is, without a question, Moonraker’s Hugo Drax. Played by acting legend Michael Lonsdale, the larger then life Bond villain shined rather brightly in a film that’s a controversial conversation starter in the 007 catalog. No matter your thoughts on the film, there’s no question that Lonsdale’s performance was a grade A winner. This is something we remember fondly today, upon learning today that Michael Lonsdale has passed away at age 89.
Per the announcement, made by Lonsdale’s agent Olivier Loiseau and reported by THR, the actor passed away at his home in Paris. While Michael Lonsdale is arguably best known for his work in Moonraker, his resume included some other titles that might ring some bells with a modern audience. Films such as The Name of The Rose, Ronin, and Munich were among those most memorable, which is only a capper to a career in stage and screen that saw Lonsdale entertaining the world since he first appeared on stage in 1955, making his way into a film career with 1956’s It Happened in Aden.
Coincidentally, Michael Lonsdale would find himself acting with two other James Bonds in some of the films we mentioned above. In particular, The Name of The Rose saw the actor in an ensemble cast that starred none other than Sean Connery in 1986, while Steven Spielberg’s Munich happened to see young Daniel Craig make a pre-Casino Royale impression on the world in 2005, with Michael Lonsdale playing a crucial information broker named Papa.
However, it’s Hugo Drax that seems to cast a large shadow on Michael Lonsdale’s resume, and who could argue with that? Seasoned actors make for some of the best Bond villains, and Moonraker played to Lonsdale’s talents rather effectively. So much so that when it came time for Drax to engage in the typical monologue that reveals the plot to 007 himself, it’s hard not to get engrossed in it, as you’ll see in the clip below:
Naturally, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the producers at the head of the James Bond franchise home, EON Productions, have also shared their remembrance of Michael Lonsdale. Taking to the official social media presence for the Bond series, their statement can be seen below:
Much like when we recently lost the inimitable Dame Diana Rigg, Michael Lonsdale’s passing is another bittersweet occasion for the world to remember a powerful acting talent who once crossed paths with this legendary film franchise. While his role did not define his career, Lonsdale’s legacy certainly helped define the James Bond series, thanks to his time within it. We here at CinemaBlend would like to extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Michael Lonsdale in this time of mourning.