Michael Lonsdale, a Bond Villain and Much More, Dies at 89

Michael Lonsdale, a versatile veteran of French cinema who was recognized overseas for his villains and antiheroes, together with the sad-eyed and subtly psychotic Hugo Drax within the James Bond movie “Moonraker” and the mysterious intelligence dealer in Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” died on Monday at his house in Paris. He was 89.

The demise was confirmed by Olivier Loiseau, his longtime agent.

Over his lengthy profession, Mr. Lonsdale appeared in almost 200 movies and labored with a Who’s Who of administrators, together with Mr. Spielberg, François Truffaut, Orson Welles, Luis Buñuel, Jean-Jacques Annaud, and James Ivory, for whom he appeared as Dupont d’Ivry, a French diplomat, in “The Remains of the Day” (1993).

“He was as much a presence as an actor,” J. Hoberman, the American movie critic, mentioned in a telephone interview, “a big hulking man, sometimes bearded, whose movements and voice were distinctively delicate.”

That incongruity was his calling card (as have been his paintbrush eyebrows).

In the avant-garde movies that he liked, most notably Marguerite Duras’s “India Song” (1975), a gorgeously soapy tragedy that’s a touchstone of the period’s European artwork cinema, Mr. Lonsdale’s shambling presence was a type of ballast. He performed a heartbroken vice consul in thrall to the adulterous spouse of an envoy, performed by the equally compelling Delphine Seyrig.

“I think it’s his greatest film,” Mr. Hoberman mentioned. “It’s a very minimal incantatory movie — there’s not much action, and yet he really holds the screen.”

In a Twitter submit, the movie critic Richard Brody, a contributor to The New Yorker, called Mr. Lonsdale “the secret agent of cinematic modernity.”

Le Monde described him as “an actor from elsewhere who seemed to embody the human condition by looking in from the outside.”

Joan Dupont, a Paris-based film critic and a contributing editor at Film Quarterly, said in an email that Mr. Lonsdale was particularly devoted to Ms. Duras, with whom he made three movies.

Mr. Lonsdale was born on May 24, 1931, in Paris. His father, Edward Lonsdale-Crouch, was an officer in the British Army. His mother, Simone (Beraud) Lonsdale, was Irish and French.

Source link Nytimes.com

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