Hugo Drax and His Plan to Reinvent Humanity
Hugo Drax, a notorious American billionaire industrialist, is a character that captured the attention of audiences around the world with his sinister plans and diabolical machinations.
As the head of the prominent aerospace manufacturer, Drax Industries, he uses his considerable wealth and influence to bring to life a dark vision of the future. His association with the infamous steel-toothed assassin, Jaws, only serves to solidify his status as a fearsome and unforgettable villain.
The character of Hugo Drax, though loosely inspired by his literary counterpart from Ian Fleming’s Moonraker novel (1955), took on a life of its own when it was adapted for the silver screen in the 1979 film of the same name.
Played by the late French actor, Michael Lonsdale, Hugo Drax has become one of the most memorable antagonists in the Bond franchise, and this character version also made an appearance in Christopher Wood’s novelisation of the film.
Little is known about the enigmatic Hugo Drax’s past. We know he has utilized his immense fortune for various purposes, such as purchasing the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte in France, dismantling it, and transporting it to the United States to be reassembled in California.
One of his female associates, Corinne Dufour, reveals that Drax even attempted to buy the Eiffel Tower, but the French government refused to grant an export permit.
As a leading entrepreneur, Hugo Drax primarily invests in the aerospace industry, earning recognition as a trailblazer in space technology due to the innovative advancements of his multinational company, Drax Industries. This is particularly evident in the exclusive production of the Moonraker space shuttles at his facilities, and he harbors ambitions to dominate space.
Bond Investigates Hugo Drax
When an aircraft carrying a Moonraker space shuttle crashes, James Bond sets out to investigate the shuttle’s disappearance. Since Drax Industries is responsible for manufacturing the shuttle, Bond heads to California, the site of the shuttle’s production.
Upon arrival, Corinne Dufour greets him and flies him to Drax’s estate. Cavendish welcomes Bond and escorts him to the drawing room to meet Drax.
Hugo Drax greets Bond, assuming the British government sent him to apologize for the shuttle’s loss. Bond clarifies that an apology will be issued to the American government once the British Secret Service determines why there was no trace of the Moonraker at the crash site.
Drax’s henchman, Chang, interrupts with tea, and Bond inquires about the Moonraker shuttle. Dufour returns, and Drax instructs her to take Bond to Dr. Holly Goodhead for a tour. Once Bond and Dufour leave, Drax orders Chang to ensure Bond encounters “some harm.”
Following the tour with Goodhead, Bond survives an attempt to kill him in a g-force training vehicle. Later, he sneaks into Drax’s office at night and accesses his safe. He discovers files containing blueprints, photographs them, and returns the files to the safe. Unbeknownst to Bond, Chang is watching him.
The next day, Drax organizes a pheasant hunt around his estate’s countryside and he persuades Bond to join the hunt, before he leaves. With an armed henchman concealed in nearby trees, Drax plots an “accident” to kill Bond.
When a pheasant takes flight, Drax points it out, and Bond takes the rifle to shoot. He fires without hitting the pheasant, leading Drax to tell Bond that he missed. Immediately after, a henchman’s lifeless body falls from the tree, and Bond asks, “Did I?”
Drax, slightly taken aback, reclaims his rifle as Bond drives away.
Hugo Drax then notices Corinne Dufour approaching. He confronts her, telling her that he knows she and Bond were in his office the previous night and that she showed Bond the safe.
Although Corinne denies the accusation, Drax informs her that her employment is terminated, and she must leave at once. As Corinne turns to go, Drax instructs Chang to release his Doberman Pinschers, which chase her into the forest and tear her apart.
From Venice to Brazil
Bond heads to Venice and discovers Drax is producing a highly potent toxin in his Museum of Antique Glass in Venice. He calls his superiors who head to Venice, but when they arrive they find the laboratory has been transformed into an ornate dining room.
As they exit the building, Bond’s superior Frederick Gray, tells him it is the most humiliating experience of his life. Bond then hands M a container with the toxin he retrieved from the laboratory.
Believing he has outsmarted MI6, Hugo Drax contacts an associate to hire a replacement for Chang, who Bond had killed. Jaws then becomes Hugo Drax’s new henchman.
Bond then heads to Brazil, and while probing the rainforest for the plant Drax uses to produce his toxin, Bond is captured by Drax’s henchwomen. They bring him before Drax, who escorts Bond into the base’s control room, where he reveals details about his toxin.
Bond and Hugo Drax then observe the launch of four Moonraker shuttles on a screen, prompting Bond to question the villain’s motive for stealing the shuttle loaned to the British government. Drax explains that he needed it to replace one of his own defective shuttles.
Drax then orders Jaws to place Bond somewhere warm to recover from his swim, so 007 is taken to the chamber beneath the last Moonraker shuttle, where Dr. Holly Goodhead is already waiting.
Drax boards the shuttle, leaving Bond and Goodhead to perish in the flames during the rocket’s launch, but Bond and Goodhead manage to escape into the air vent and board the sixth Moonraker shuttle, which transports them to Drax’s space station.
At Drax’s space station, Bond and Goodhead blend in with the other pilots as Hugo Drax delivers a speech. Unveiling his plan, he reveals his intent to annihilate the entire human race, except for a select group of physically perfect individuals he intends to form a super race with.
Drax’s scientists have developed chemical weapons using his toxin to eradicate humanity while sparing Earth’s animals. The toxins, contained within 50 strategically positioned globes, will be dispersed worldwide. Once the chemical agents become harmless, Drax’s master race will repopulate the planet.
After Bond and Goodhead disable the base’s radar jammer, the space station appears on American radar, prompting a shuttle carrying soldiers to investigate.
Drax commands his men to use the base’s laser to destroy the incoming shuttle, as Jaws, who has captured Bond and Goodhead, brings them before him. Drax then introduces Bond to the airlock chamber, planning to eject both him and Goodhead into space.
Bond deliberately asks Hugo Drax if everyone who fails to meet his ideals of perfection will be exterminated, which he confirms. Realizing neither he nor his girlfriend meet Drax’s standards, Jaws switches sides and attacks Drax’s men.
To avoid the destruction of the approaching shuttle and their own demise, Bond quickly hits the base’s emergency stop button, causing the facility to shake violently. With the base no longer rotating, it loses gravity. Bond, Goodhead, and Jaws use this opportunity to escape the main room.
Drax’s men and the approaching US soldiers then engage in a fierce battle in space, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides.
A technician manages to restart the station’s rotation, but the soldiers have already docked their shuttle and boarded the station, leading to a massive battle in the control room. Bond sees Drax fleeing and pursues him.
Near the airlock chamber, Drax grabs a gun from a fallen soldier, aiming to kill Bond, but 007 reacts first, shooting Drax with a cyanide dart from his wrist gun. Fatally wounded, Drax stumbles back, and Bond opens the airlock chamber to eject the dying Drax into space.
Michael Lonsdale was a renowned French actor and author, recognized for his versatile acting in over 180 films and television shows. Born in Paris in 1931, he discovered his passion for acting after initially intending to study painting.
Fluent in both French and English, he gained international fame as the Bond villain Hugo Drax opposite Roger Moore in Moonraker (1979). He later appeared with former Bond actor Sean Connery in the 1984 movie The Name of the Rose, and then alongside Daniel Craig in the 2005 film Munich.
In addition to his acting career, Lonsdale authored ten books, including his 2016 memoir, Le Dictionnaire de Ma Vie. He received a César Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2011 for his work in Of Gods and Men.