Michael Lonsdale: a giant who lived on the sidelines

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Old Monk Locke, confidently explains to a young Muslim woman: What does love consist of? And how it comes in a moment, as pure grace. With this short scene from Xavier Beauvoi’s “About Gods and Men” (2010), Michael Lonsdale (24 May 1931 – 21 September 2020) achieved the impossible in his major role, which earned him the Cesar Award. In this unforgettable scene, Lonsdale was so honest, he was not acting. In a few sentences, through a miracle of expressions and intonations, he explained the meaning of life and love in all sincerity. He is the one who never married, and remained loyal throughout his life and at a distance from the woman he loved. In his memoir, The Dictionary of My Life (2016), Lonsdale stated that he went to Paris to study painting, but switched to acting to “overcome my shyness.” He took acting lessons, and among his classmates was Delphine Serig. He fell in love with her “it was her or nothing, and that’s why I’m 85 years old I’m still not married.” Years later, she shared the movie “The Song of India” (1975), playing the role of the French vice-consul in Lahore in the last 1930s, while she was the wife of the French ambassador to India. In the movie he fails in his attempt to start a relationship with her. “It’s my favorite role,” he always said.Michael Lonsdale was the only man in French cinema. A man on the sidelines, sad at times, malicious at other times. In Stolen Kisses (1968) by Francois Truffaut, the shoe store owner Tappard (Lonsdale) assigns a special investigation to find out why his employees do not like him. He became known internationally as the most solitary villain when we saw him as Hugo Drax, the crazy billionaire who explains to James Bond (Roger Moore in the movie “The Monryker” / 1979), with an unmoved face with arms behind his back, how he wants to wipe out the world’s population with gas.
Lonsdale remained a mysterious figure despite his public appearances. He never felt completely comfortable in the closed environment of the actors. “Sometimes I feel strange … to the point of feeling very uncomfortable.” He was born on May 24, 1931. He studied art, performed and performed many theater shows, and drew and published books, many of them on religious subjects. He was very religious. A mysterious cinematic and theatrical giant who has worked with some of the most famous directors over the course of six decades (Truffaut, Godard, Eustache, Rivette, Lowe Mall, Bonwell, Wells, Jean-Pierre Muki, Jean-Jacques Anode, Margaret Doras, John Frankenheimer, Xavier Beauvois and Stephen Spielberg) . A man consumed by his art, he has worked in more than 100 films and numerous plays. Tall, curved, firmly fixed in the ground, his voice was flexible, capable of whispering and sudden screaming, and he moved from one role to another with ease and credibility. His roles are minor but often steal the show from the main characters, with his prestige, image, and ability to embody subtle meekness and royal disdain.

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