He was a mystic.
A real one, a pure one.
Tranquility had no hold on him.
Michael Lonsdale, César for best actor in a supporting role in 2011 for his performance in “Des hommes et des dieux”, and who let go this Monday at his Parisian home, Place Vauban, in the 7th arrondissement, at the age of 89 years old, will undoubtedly never have been so out of place as in Xavier Beauvois' film with global resonances.
This masterpiece tells the tragic fate of the eight monks of Tibéhirine, kidnapped and murdered in 1996 in the Algerian Atlas.
He embodied Brother Luke, impervious to fear, his woolen cap, his beard and his robe signifying the armor of the invincible.
But the invincibles also die and, as we have understood, dying was the last of the worries of this man with the nose in discreet trumpet in a round face that we will then know, after the 1960s, surrounded by a necklace of brown beard.
“There is no point in quibbling about death,” he wrote in 2016 in “Le Dictionnaire de ma vie”: “We are born, we disappear.
Mom was very afraid of death, but I wasn't.
At mass, it disturbs me to hear the priest talk about resurrection because we don't know anything about it.
From "India Song" to "Hibernatus"
He now knows a little more about this actor with hundreds of roles with their high-end credits evolving, on the boards, from the world of Marguerite Duras in "The English Lover" or as vice-consul of Lahore in the film " India Song ”, to that of James Bond, where he plays the evil Hugo Drax facing Roger Moore in“ Moonraker ”(1979).
For Steven Spielberg, he will shoot "Munich" (2005).
And he will frolic from "Hibernatus" (1969) - "I did it because I was broke", he later admitted - to "Name of the Rose" (1986).
We would never stop making the big difference with this phenomenon.
Unfortunately, the law is tough, but it is the law, and it is sometimes unfair to very great artists.
Thus, in the eyes of the general public, it is never good to mix genres, and if this double trajectory posed no problem for a Depardieu, it was not the same for Lonsdale.
A question of discretion perhaps.
Still, mayonnaise has never really caught between pure and hard art and forays into straightforward comedy - when Josiane Balasko, who was his student in improvisation classes, calls it out for " My life is hell ".
He knew it but it didn't matter to him.
His love for painting
Born in the 16th arrondissement, Lonsdale, from his full surname Michael Edward Lonsdale-Crouch, nephew of the Prix Goncourt Marcel Arland, was the son of a British soldier who will try to retrain in the fertilizer trade in Morocco.
He was only 11 when the American troops had the idea of showing films to the soldiers, all in English of course, which was perfectly fine since the kid spoke the language perfectly.
Upon his return to France in 1949, a few decisive encounters - the director Roger Blin in particular - have woven the path.
And it was thanks to François Truffaut that he entered the quarry through the front door.
The latter offered her a role in "The Bride Was in Black" and it all started from there.
On the shoulder of this shy actor, in love with women who did not necessarily return it to him, and his heart suffered greatly.
There is something that we do not know and which, like with Serge Gainsbourg, was very important to Michael Lonsdale: it is his love for painting.
He had started painting as a teenager, shortly before leaving Morocco.
In the hotel where he lived, in Rabat, with his parents, there was a workshop where artists worked.
Among them, a woman introduced him to reproductions of great painters, Cézanne, Chagall… In Paris, Place Vauban, he too launched himself, and his works, including formidable self-portraits, are signs of immense talent. .
Another color to his palette.