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Michael Lonsdale, actor who played Bond villain Hugo Drax, dies at 89

Lonsdale was known internationally for his roles in the 1979 James Bond film "Moonraker" and as detective Claude Lebel in "The Day of the Jackal."
French actor Michael Lonsdale in 2011.
French actor Michael Lonsdale in 2011.Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

French actor Michael Lonsdale, who was known internationally for his roles as the villain Hugo Drax in the 1979 James Bond film "Moonraker" and detective Claude Lebel in "The Day of the Jackal," has died. He was 89.

AFP confirmed news of the actor's death via his agent on Monday.

Lonsdale won France's Cesar for best supporting actor in 2011 for his role in Xavier Beauvois' "Of Gods and Men." His performance in "The Day of the Jackal" earned him a supporting actor BAFTA nomination.

Lonsdale was born to an English father and a French mother in Paris in 1931. He marked his acting debut in 1956 with "It Happened in Aden." In a long and distinguished career, the actor amassed more than 200 credits, working with some of the greats of cinema.

Michael Lonsdale, right, in "The Day of the Jackal" in 1973.Mondadori Portfolia via Everett Collection

Early in his career he worked with Orson Welles on "The Trial" (1962), Rene Clement in "Is Paris Burning?" (1964) and with Francois Truffaut in "The Bride Wore Black" and "Stolen Kisses" (both 1968). He also had roles in Jacques Rivette's "Out 1" and Louis Malle's "Murmur of the Heart" (both 1971).

He worked with Alain Robbe-Grillet on "Successive Slidings of Pleasure" and with Alain Resnais on "Stavisky" (both 1974). The same year saw Lonsdale collaborate with Luis Bunuel on "The Phantom of Liberty."

1975 was also a stellar year for the actor, as he worked with Marguerite Duras on "India Song," Joseph Losey twice on "The Romantic Englishwoman" and "Galileo" and Costa-Gavras on "Special Section."

Lonsdale collaborated with John Frankenheimer on "The Holcroft Covenant" (1985) and "Ronin" (1998) and with Merchant Ivory on "Remains of the Day" (1993) and "Jefferson in Paris" (1995). He had a memorable outing with Jean-Jacques Annaud on "The Name of the Rose" (1986) and with Steven Spielberg in "Munich" (2005).

His last role was in 2016, on Loris Greaud's "Sculpt."

Lonsdale was nominated in the Cesar supporting actor category twice more, for "Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud" (1995) and "Heartbeat Detector" (2007).