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Overview for Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell

Malcolm McDowell


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Also Known As: Died:
Born: June 13, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Yorkshire, England, GB Profession: Cast ...


Most sources designate Ken Loach's "Poor Cow" (1967) as McDowell's film debut. These include Quigley's 1993 edition of the "Motion Picture Almanac", "The International Directory of Films and Filmmakers: Volume III--Actors and Actresses", Leonard Maltin's 1993 "Movie and Video Guide" and Ephraim Katz's "Film Encyclopedia". However, the usually reliable "Film Dope" (No. 37) claims that McDowell's supporting role as Billy was cut before release.

"'If...' is probably the best film I made and after it Lindsay [Anderson] said, 'Well, Malcolm, it's downhill from here.' I told him I was young and would do much better work. 'I doubt it,' he said. Maybe he was right. Who knows? I didn't have time to be disappointed. When you're living through those things you think it's all going to continue, but very soon afterwards the British film industry collpased. Lindsay Anderson was too good.

"Perhaps 'A Clockwork Orange' was too good, too. For years I resented the impact it had on my life, but I don't anymore. Baddies are usually interesting. Who wants those boring parts that Kevin Costner does? He's brilliant at them, but I'd be bored stiff playing upright, walking cliches. I don't think I've ever done anything where I tried to be liked by the audience. You've got to have the courage to be hated. I'm just a working actor and if I want to do something interesting and litereate I return to the stage. I'm not disillusioned. How many great films can you do in a lifetime? Even Paul Newman hasn't done that many. I had three great ones that will live forever. I'd have preferred them to be made every 15 years, rather than one after the other, but I went off and did other stuff. Loads of it is crap, but some is nearly great, like 'Assassin of the Tsar', a Russian film I made two years ago that hasn't even been seen." --Malcolm McDowell, quoted in RADIO TIMES in a 1996 interview

About "A Clockwork Orange": "Stanley Kubrick gave me a copy of the book. I called him and said, and I must have been absolutely nuts, but I said, 'Are you offering me this?' And there was a long pause and he said, 'Yes.' Having got that out of the way, I said, 'Well, look, I'd like to meet with you further and talk about it. Would you like to come to my house?' Another long pause: 'Where is it?' And he came in a sort of a convoy . . . I didn't realize that it was such a big deal for Stanley Kubrick to leave his home. He 'doesn't travel well,' as they say . . .

"Well, I was totally seduced by him [his character Alex). I thought he was a hoot. I honestly thought I was making a black comedy and played it for humor. I learned early on in life that you must not worry about being disliked. It's great fun--suicidal parts . . ." --McDowell, quoted in PREMIERE, April 1995

"Monty Python influences everything I do. I'm much more influenced by comedians than by other actors. There was an English comic, Eric Morecambe. In my own way, I was inspired by him to be physical in a way that I had seen him do. Or Benny Hill or John Cleese." --McDowell, to Ilene Rosensweig in THE NEW YORK TIMES, December 9, 1996

"At bottom, he's a kid from Liverpool, with the same humor you saw in the Beatles--that sardonic northern humor, very quick." --ex-wife Mary Steenburgen, quoted in THE NEW YORK TIMES, December 9, 1996

On Stanley Kubrick: "Making 'A Clockwork Orange' was the most intense learning experience of my life, though his way of working threw me at first. I'd be waiting for suggestions, and he'd say, 'Gee, Malcolm, I'm not RADA--I hired you to do the acting.' I was a young man [27] and said nothing at first. Later, I'd say, 'Look at that chair. What does it say on the back. Director, no?' But it was such a pleasure when you did something he liked: he would stuff his handkerchief into his mouth to try to stop himself laughing. . . .

"I was shocked when I first heard about his death. He was only 70, and still seemed so plugged in. I've felt lots of disgust since his death. People talking about Stanley Kubrick who are not even qualified to talk about a black pudding. I heard Michael Winner analysing Kubrick. Please!" --McDowell to THE OBSERVER, March 14, 1999

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