Michael Lonsdale

  1. Francois Truffaut, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977.    Impressed by his 1969 Hitchcock film Topaz, Steven Spielberg wanted Lonsdale as the French scientist communicatingb with… well, them! Then, someone mentioned the idea of Truffaut, who had started acting in his own films. (He came cheaper than Trintignant). “He was better known,” admitted Lonsdale. “Not a good actor, though.” Trintignant agreed.
  2. Jean  Champion, Félicité, France, 1978.      As the doctor in actress-turned-realisateur Christine Pascal’s autobiographical poem. Sadly, she made only four more films –  before her 1996 suicide.
  3. Joop Doderer, The Human Factor, 1979.   When they met, producer-director Otto Preminger asked: “Are you a good actor?” Lonsdale retorted: “Are you a good director?”  Otto the Ogre was not pleased. “I thought he was going to jump me.” They continued talked, then Lonsdale decided. “Excuse me, but this is not for me. ”   Enter: the Dutch Doderer. The film, Otto’s 42nd and last, flopped.
  4. Alain Delon, Un amour de Swann (UK/US: Swann In Love), France-West Germany,1983.    Star power…!!!  Not the kind that makes a film succeed, the kind to muscle into a cast… German director Volker Schlöndorff had correctly chosen Lonsdale as his perfect “corpulent, nasty, pervse”  Baron Charlus.  Delon, who had been booked as narrator of Visconti’s aborted version, decided no adaptation of Marcel Proust could be made without him.   Jeremy Irons had the lead, so Delontold Gaumont he wanted to play the gay Charlus (as his homage to Visconti… or maybe he remembered that Visconti wanted Brando in the role). Whatevr the reason, Gaumont dutifully agreed… Schlöndorff then found Delon posing, lovey-dovey, with co-star Ornella Muti – “just for the family album.”  And the photo (the total opposite of their roles and, as it were kicking Irons out of the picture) hit various magazine covers. The director was furious.  Gaumont remained cowed.  Too professional to quit as he wished to, Sclöndorff directed Delon via notes passed on by his assistant helmer…Delon played exactly the same “I’m the star” game, 22 years later, when meeting Sofia Coppola about playing Louis XV in Marie-Antoinette, 2005- only this time he didn’t bother to make the movie, just the magazines!


 Birth year: 1931Death year: 2020Other name: Casting Calls:  4