Moonraker star Michael Lonsdale dies aged 89

Moonraker star Michael Lonsdale dies aged 89

Michael Lonsdale has died aged 89.

The 'Moonraker' star - who played the villain Hugo Drax alongside Sir Roger Moore's James Bond in the 1979 movie - passed away at his home in Paris, his agent Olivier Loiseau has confirmed.

Michael was best known for his performance in 'Moonraker' as the sinister industrialist - who concocted a plan to poison all humans on Earth and then repopulate the planet from his space station - and the James Bond official Twitter account was one of the first to issue a statement on the sad news.

A tweet from the account read: "We are very sad to learn of the passing of Michael Lonsdale, who played Hugo Drax in Moonraker. He was an extraordinarily talented actor and a very dear friend. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time - Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. (sic)"

And the official Twitter account for the late Sir Roger Moore - who died in 2017 - also paid tribute.

They wrote: "Terribly saddened to learn Michael Lonsdale has also passed away today. As Hugo Drax he was a smooth-tongued and cultured adversary to 007 in Moonraker. (sic)"

Michael appeared in over 200 roles in both English and French, and once referred to 'Moonraker' as a "rich film" that helped to further his career.

In 2012, he was asked if he was ever concerned that playing a Bond villain would have a negative impact on his career, and he said: "On the contrary! Because, I made so many films that were not really very popular or didn't make much money, and I only made poor films, so I thought I might like to be in a rich film."

And in the same interview, Michael compared Hugo Drax to a Adolf Hitler, and said the character was "terrible".

He added: "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."

Michael had a varied career on film, TV, radio and stage, and prior to playing Hugo Drax, he starred as the Deputy Commissioner Claude Lebel in 1973 political thriller 'The Day of the Jackal'.

The legendary actor also appeared as Jean-Pierre in 1998 US action film 'Ronin', alongside Robert De Niro, and as Papa in Steven Spielberg's 2005 historical thriller 'Munich'.