Michael Edward Lonsdale-Crouch is born in Paris: he is the adulterine son of a Frenchwoman and Edward Lonsdale-Crouch, an officer of the British army. One of his grandmothers was Irish. Shortly after his birth, the Lonsdale family moved to Jersey and moved to London in 1935. In 1939, they moved to Morocco where his father became a fertilizer dealer. Prisoner of the Vichy authorities, he is released during the landing of the Allies in North Africa. His son Michael then took advantage of Casablanca’s American cinema sessions for the troops.
He animated children’s programs on Radio-Maroc as early as 1943. Returning to France in 1946 (in Cannes), he met Roger Blin who introduced him to the theater. In 1949, Michael and his mother settled in a building facing the Invalides, in the maternal grandfather’s apartment where the actor still lives.
He follows Tania Balachova’s theater class. To earn some money, her mother gives English classes. At age 22, he asks to be baptized in the Catholic faith. The francization of his first name – in Michel – comes from the Belgian actor Raymond Rouleau who could not pronounce correctly Michael.
It is thanks to the two roles offered by François Truffaut in The Bride was in black and Stolen Kisses (in this last film, a scene from the film is shot in his Paris apartment) that he made a name for himself in the cinema.
He turns in so-called avant-garde films (Marcel Hanoun’s films) as in Hollywood productions (Steven Spielberg’s Munich). His command of English allows him to appear in many American and British films.
In his career, he also plays for directors like Orson Welles, François Truffaut, Joseph Losey, Louis Malle, Luis Buñuel, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Jean Eustacheou and Jean-Daniel Pollet as well as contemporary texts (Dürrenmatt, Beckett, Duras …) at the theatre . He participated in mainstream films, including a James Bond, Moonraker in 1979, in the role of the villain or the comedy My life is a hell of Josiane Balasko, as well as TV movies.
He met Michel Puig and together they founded in 1972 the Musical Theater of Ulis, musical theater company subsidized by the Ministry of Culture.
In 1990, on the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and the monks of Citeaux, he directed Bernard de Clairvaux by Daniel Facérias and Gilles Tinayre on the Clairvaux historic site with over a hundred extras.
Michael Lonsdale has staged many texts, including the most recent Marie Madeleine brothers Martineau and The Night of Marina Tsvetaeva Valeria Moretti in 2001.
Michael Lonsdale lends his voice to reading great texts of literature and philosophy (see audiobooks), as well as to Erik Satie in the Maisons Satie of Honfleur.
Since 2001, he has been honorary president of the Silence Festival and one of the honorary presidents of the Marguerite Duras Prize jury, author and director with whom he has toured a lot. The following year, he directed the musical Marie-Madeleine brothers Martineau in which Nicole Rieu takes the lead role.
In 2010, he directed a show about Sister Emmanuelle, after other shows on Thérèse de Lisieux and François d’Assise.
Michael Lonsdale is also a recognized painter. The Daniel Besseiche gallery in Paris organized an exhibition in 2010 where his works were hung alongside the expressionist painter and art critic Jean Revol.
On February 25, 2011, he won the first Caesar of his career as Best Supporting Actor for Men and Gods.
In 2008, the international film festival Entrevues in Belfort devotes a tribute to Edith Scob.
In 2011, he is the guest of honor at the Paris Cinéma festival. On this occasion, he gives a cinema lesson with Jean Douchet.
In 2014, he lends his voice to Victor Hugo, in the Besançon tramway, the writer’s birthplace.