A Clockwork Orange
"There are no great scripts, just great films." Malcolm McDowell
English actor Malcolm McDowell received rave reviews for his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of the charismatic and psychopath Alex de Large in Stanley Kubrick's “A Clockwork Orange” (1971). Yet another "finest actor of his generation" who has played Mick Travis in three of Lindsay Anderson's dark comedy films, "If...." (1968), "O Lucky Man" (1973) and "Britannia Hospital" (1982), McDowell has also starred in such films as “Royal Flash” (1975), “Voyage of the Damned” (1976), “Caligola” (1979), “Time After Time” (1979), “Look Back in Anger” (1980), “Cat People” (1982), “Star Trek: Generations” (1994), "My Life So Far" (1999), "Gangster No. 1" (2000), "Just Visiting" (2001), "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" (2003), "The Company" (2003), "Evilenko" (2004), "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius" (2004) and the newest version of "Halloween" (2007).
On the small screen, McDowell could be seen in the TV series "Entourage" and "Heroes." Next, he will be seen in the upcoming films "Doomsday," "Delgo" (voice) and "Vivaldi."
“The best thing I did was abuse myself when younger - I dabbled in everything, cocaine, booze, women - because now I don't have to do it anymore.” Malcolm McDowell
More personally, the 5' 8½" blue-eyed actor has been married three times. He was once married to actresses Margot Bennett (1975-1980) and Mary Steenburgen (1980-1990). His current wife is Kelley Kuhr, a photographer, with whom he has two young sons.
“Actors, we just go on until we just collapse, I guess. The thing is, I've got two young boys. One of them's eight months, one's three years old. What am I supposed to do? I've got to put them through college. I've got to start all this again. So I'm watching f**king Big Bird now.” Malcolm McDowell
Childhood and Family:
Born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, on June 13, 1943, Malcolm John Taylor (“McDowell” is his mother's maiden name) was brought up in Bridlington where his working-class parents, Charles (died at the age of 69) and Edna Taylor, operated a pub. Malcolm's father was an alcoholic and led the family pub to bankruptcy. Malcolm's mother later ran a hotel.
Young Malcolm, nicknamed “Mick,” was starved for attention and a little terror. At age 11, he was sent to the Tunbridge Boarding School and later, the Cannock House School in Eltham, in Kent. He studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Art.
“I had come to drugs quite late really - my early 30s - and suddenly I found myself unable to do anything. I think I believed what people said, that it's non-addictive, when of course it is highly addictive. When you give up, you have to give up everything. There is no point in arguing. This is your life.” Malcolm McDowell
From April 21, 1975, to September 1980, Malcolm was married to actress Margot Bennett (born in 1940), who was formerly married to actor Keir Dullea (of the films "A Space Odyssey" and "2010: The Year We Make Contact.”
“I got to be the hero in that one (1979's “On Time After Time”). It's a very whimsical part, a wonderful part, H.G. running after Jack the Ripper (David Warner) and meeting this modern woman (Mary Steenburgen). Of course, it's very special to me because I met Mary (Mary Steenburgen). We got married and we had two children. Even though we're not together now, she is the mother of my children and that film is where we met. It's also a damn good film!” Malcolm McDowell
On September 29, 1980, Malcolm married his second wife, Oscar-winning actress Mary Steenburgen (born February 8, 1953), whom he met on the set of his 1979 film “On Time After Time.” The have two grown-up children together, Lilly Amanda McDowell (actress; born January 21, 1981) and Charlie McDowell (producer/director; born July 10, 1983). However, the marriage ended in divorce in 1990, to which Malcolm recalled, “We had got to the point where, with her career and my career, we never met. In the end, I just said, 'I'll move out. When you get back, I'll be gone.'”
One year after divorcing Steenburgen, Malcolm married his third wife, Kelley Kuhr, a photographer, on November 12, 1991. He has two sons with her, Beckett Taylor McDowell (born January 18, 2004) and Finn McDowell.
“They are the light of my life. And he is just so delicious, like a rebirth for me.” Malcolm McDowell (on wife Kelly and their infant son)
Malcolm, the uncle of Alexander Siddig who appeared in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (1993), currently lives near Santa Barbara, California. He said, “I love living in California. I don't live in Los Angeles. I live up near Santa Barbara. I love it here, would never move, unless of course the big one came. Then I'd be forced out. But no, I love it here. I just loved it. I've loved it ever since I arrived in 1979.”
O Lucky Man!
After losing his job at his parents' pub when it went bankrupt, Malcolm McDowell found jobs as the sales representative for a coffee company, instant potatoes and lemon meringue pie around Yorkshire. He recalled, “That was a bit of luck really. Usually it takes years to become a salesman, but their guy from the north-east had just been arrested for trafficking in stolen goods and they needed an immediate replacement. So they gave me a little car and off I went. I was meant to be a stopgap, but obviously I was brilliant compared with the stolen goods guy. I was particularly brilliant at whipping up the instant mash. I trebled their sales overnight.”
At age 24, McDowell first saw English actor Albert Finney in “Saturday Night And Sunday Morning” and began thinking “if he can do it, so can I.” He soon asked the coffee company to transfer him to London, where he ended up at the Royal Court Theatre. He eventually secured work as an extra with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in their productions for 18 months. By this time, he had adopted his mother's maiden name of McDowell as there was already an actor named Malcolm Taylor.
In 1967, McDowell made his big-screen debut in Ken Loach's directional debut, “Poor Cow,” based on Nell Dunn's novel of the same name, but his 2-minute scene was ultimately deleted from the completed film before its release. However, the next year he landed a feature lead in Lindsay Anderson's cult film “If....” (1968). In the film, about an armed rebellion at a British public school, he played the main protagonist Mick Travis, one of three non-conformist boys among the returning class of a boarding school who staged a violent revolt. The film won the 1969 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and was named the sixteenth greatest British film of all time by the magazine Total Film in 2004.
Afterward, McDowell teamed up with Robert Shaw to play two escaped convicts on the run in an unnamed Latin American country in Joseph Losey's adaptation of Barry England's thriller novel, "Figures in a Landscape" (1970). He also starred as a paralyzed soccer player in Bryan Forbes' big screen version of Peter Marshall's play, "The Raging Moon" (1971).
“It's a remarkable film that has survived as such a classic and I'd be a raving idiot not to be thrilled with that.” Malcolm McDowell (reflecting on “A Clockwork Orange,” 1971
In 1971, McDowell starred in his most famous role as the charismatic psychopath Alex de Large, a Beethoven-loving, head-bashing punk who leads a small gang of thugs on a rampage every night in Stanley Kubrick's “A Clockwork Orange” (1971). His brilliant performance in the Oscar-nominated adaptation of a 1962 disturbing novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess earned him a nomination at the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama. Additionally, his character was ranked 100 on the list of the "100 Greatest Film Performances of All Time" and ranked #68 on Premiere Magazine's "100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time." Later, in 1974, Kubrick asked Warner Bros to stop distributing the film in Britain due to his anxiety about real-life violence attributed to viewings of the film. A self-imposed ban was still in effect at the time of Kubrick's 1999 death.
Two years later, McDowell made his second collaboration with director Lindsay Anderson with the film “O Lucky Man” (1973), reprising the role of Mick Travis from If.... (1968). The film was derived from an idea by McDowell and was also produced by him.
“I was naive enough to think that because If.... was a big hit and successful and all that that Lindsay would want to work with me again. I put my arm round him, which he didn't like much, but anyway, he suffered it and we were walking down the Croisette in Cannes at the festival and I remember saying, 'You know, Lindsay, we're such a big success. How about doing another film together?' And he stopped, his eyes rolled and he looked down that Roman nose of his and he said, 'What do you think Malcolm? That good scripts fall from the trees like leaves?' [laughter] 'You know, if you want to work with me again, then you bloody well better had write it.' I mean, I was a young actor you know, obviously he thought that that was the end of that. And he walked off and I said, 'I will then. I will write it, I'm going to write it.' And I had this idea about doing a film about my experiences as a coffee salesman in Yorkshire. I only did it for nine months and I had a lot of extraordinary experiences. And I thought I'd write them down, which I did. I wrote them down; I got 40 pages of escapades of Mick Travis or Gordon Crosswaite, whatever the hell I called him.” Malcolm McDowell (on “O Lucky Man,” 1973)
In a bid to escape his violent image, McDowell portrayed Captain Harry Flashman in Richard Lester's comic adaptation of George MacDonald Fraser's 1970 novel, “Royal Flash” (1975). He then starred opposite Alan Bates, Laurence Olivier and Helen Mirren in the British TV production of Harold Pinter's "The Collection" (1976), directed by Michael Apted, and portrayed Max Gunther in Stuart Rosenberg's "Voyage of the Damned" (1976), an Oscar-nominated period drama about a boatload of Jewish refugees seeking asylum and starring an all-star cast that included Faye Dunaway, Lee Grant, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker and Lynne Frederick. He also returned to stage and was featured in the London stage revival of Joe Orton's "Entertaining Mr. Sloane."
“I moved to the States because of that film (“Time After Time,” 1979), because I went to make that film in Hollywood. It's about H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through time to modern-day San Francisco and meeting a modern-day liberated woman. Now H.G. Wells was a great socialist, and so when he actually met a liberated woman, it wasn't quite what he imagined. Anyway, it's a wonderful thriller. It was made by a man called Nicholas Meyer and he wrote the script. He'd done 'The Seven-per-cent Solution' before that. I was really pleased to be offered the part of H.G. Wells rather than Jack the Ripper, which I thought they were going to offer me. Thank God they didn't do that - and they picked David Warner and I don't think it could have been played any better than David.” Malcolm McDowell
In 1979, McDowell co-starred opposite future wife Mary Steenburgen in Nicholas Meyer's "Time After Time," based on the novel of the same name by Karl Alexander. In the film, he portrayed H.G. Wells, a genius who builds a time machine in 1893 London and follows criminal serial killer Jack the Ripper from 19th century England to modern-day San Francisco. His performance later received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actor.
Next, McDowell played the title role of Rome's most infamous Caesar, "Caligula" (1979), in the first $15 million 'porno' film produced by PENTHOUSE's Bob Guccione. “Caligula” also starred such renowned acting talents as Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud. After starring as Jimmy Porter, a self-loathing and frustrated musician who works at a candy shop, in the Lindsay Anderson-directed off-Broadway production of John Osborne's 1956 play, “Look Back in Anger,” (he later reprised the role in its 1980 film adaptation by Anderson), McDowell acted opposite Nastassja Kinski in Paul Schrader's remake of the 1942 film, "Cat People" (1982), playing her demonic older brother. He also made his third and final film with director (Lindsay) Anderson, "Britannia Hospital" (1982), in which he reprised his role as Mick Travis, the rebellious schoolboy from Anderson's 1968 film “If....” and was seen as the go-getter coffee salesman in 1973's “O Lucky Man!”
McDowell spent the rest of the 1980s playing small roles as legendary editor Maxwell Perkins to then-wife Mary Steenburgen's Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Martin Ritt's Oscar-nominated film based, in part, on Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' 1942 memoir, "Cross Creek" (1983), portrayed the wolf to Mary Steenburgen's "Little Red Riding Hood" (1983) for Showtime's "Faerie Tale Theatre" and played King Arthur in the made-for-TV movie "Arthur the King" (shot in 1982, but not broadcasted until three years later). He also portrayed the corrupt producer and studio head in Blake Edwards' disappointing western "Sunset" (1988).
In the early 1990s, McDowell made four straight-to-video films: Gray Hofmeyr's "Schweitzer" (he played the title role of the real-life German theologian, musician, philosopher and physician), Charles Winkler's horror/thriller "Disturbed" (as the perverse doctor at a mental hospital), Roland Emmerich's sci-fi/action "Moon 44" for LIVE Home Video and Max Reid's thriller "In the Eye of the Snake" for AIP Home Video. He guest starred as Longtooth in "The Reluctant Vampire" episode of HBO's horror anthology series "Tales from the Crypt" and contributed a cameo to Robert Altman's take on Michael Tolkin's novel, the dark-comedy "The Player" (1992). He also portrayed villainous Dr. Tolian Soran in "Star Trek: Generations" and later admitted that he received death threats after his character killed Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner).
“I didn't want to do it (Star Trek: Generations; 1994), I'm not a fan, I can't watch it, actually, but my agent implored me to do it. Agents are always right.” Malcolm McDowell
McDowell made his American TV series debut as the sardonic Professor Pynchon in the CBS sitcom "Pearl" (1996-1997). Meanwhile, he also made a rare appearance on British TV, his first British TV appearance in 25 years, as seedy underworld baron Benny Barratt in the BBC2 nine-part miniseries version of Peter Flannery's acclaimed epic "Our Friends in the North" (1996), and played a boozy former ship captain in a Canadian feature helmed by Philip Jackson, "Hydrosphere" (1997; aka “2103: The Deadly Wake”). He also starred as Mr. Roarke, the enigmatic overseer of a mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, in the short-lived ABC series remake of the classic "Fantasy Island" (1998-1999), and portrayed Uncle Morris MacIntosh in Hugh Hudson's period coming-of-age film "My Life So Far" (1999), based on the memoirs of British TV mogul Denis Forman.
The new millennium saw McDowell as a flamboyant gangster in Paul McGuigan's crime/drama/thriller film Gangster No. 1, alongside Paul Bettany and David Thewlis. When asked about his favorite scene among all the films he has done, McDowell said, “To be honest with you, of course one loves to play a big... like 'Gangster No.1' (2000), to play a scene like that is fantastic. You go from up there... to up there, and it was so much fun playing that part, really, I had a great time, it was a great group of people, and in fact, I honestly can't remember when I didn't work on a film with a great group of people.”
McDowell subsequently appeared as the wizard in Jean-Marie Poire's comedy film "Just Visiting" (2001), a spin-off of the French films “Les Visiteurs” (1993) and “Les Visiteurs 2,” and was cast as a nefarious arms dealer in the feature adaptation of the espionage TV series "I Spy," opposite Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson. He also played the ballet company's artistic director, a character based on real-life dancer and choreographer Gerald Arpino, in Robert Altman's ballet-themed drama "The Company" (2003; starring Neve Campbell), and golf player O.B. Keeler in the biopic about the golf legend, "Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius" (2004).
After being cast as a volatile crime lord in Mike Hodges' British crime drama starring Clive Owen and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" (2004), McDowell portrayed real-life Russian communist teacher, pedophile and serial killer Andrei Chikatilo in the Italian true story-based film, "Evilenko" (2004), written and directed by David Grieco. About his character in the film, McDowell explained, “Nobody saw him take a kid off the street. They followed him. He knew a weakness instantly. He looked around and he could spot the one victim he knew would be the weakest. I’m not playing research; I’m playing the character as written. It doesn’t interest me. I’m an instinctive actor, not a method actor.”
From 2005 to 2006, McDowell made several guest appearances as Ari's former partner and boss in the HBO Emmy-winning series "Entourage." Afterward, he returned to the wide screen in Rob Zombie's new version of the 1978 horror classic, "Halloween" (2007), in which he played psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis.
In April 2007, McDowell portrayed powerful mobster Mr. Linderman on the hit NBC Emmy-nominated sci-fi series "Heroes," but his character was soon killed off the series. He responded, “I was a little bit pissed off because I was enjoying it so much. Then when I read the script, I let out a huge scream and said, ‘The bastards have killed me!’"
McDowell is currently on set filming his upcoming sci-fi film written and directed by Neil Marshall, “Doomsday.” Next, McDowell will provide his voice in the independent animated feature film “Delgo,” alongside Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anne Bancroft and Val Kilmer. He will also star opposite Lena Headey, Joseph Fiennes, Gérard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset in Boris Damast's biopic about the Baroque music composer, "Vivaldi."