McDowell, Malcolm

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McDOWELL, Malcolm

Nationality: British. Born: Leeds, 15 June 1943. Education: Attended Cannock College, Kent. Family: Married 1) Margot Bennett Dullea, 1975 (divorced 1980); 2) the actress Mary Steenburgen, 1980 (divorced 1990), two children: Lilly and Charlie; 3) Kelley Kuhr. Career: Early 1960s—worked in coffee factory, then as coffee salesman in Yorkshire; actor in regional repertory companies in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, and Torquay; mid-1960s—with Royal Shakespeare Company for 18 months; 1967—film debut in Poor Cow; 1975—on stage in Entertaining Mr. Sloane, London, and in Look Back in Anger, New York, 1980. Agent: Cauden Inc., 822 South Robertson Boulevard, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90035, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Poor Cow (Loach) (as Billy, scene was deleted from released film)


If . . . (Lindsay Anderson) (as Mick Travis)


Figures in a Landscape (Losey) (as Ansell)


The Raging Moon (Long Ago Tomorrow) (Forbes) (as Bruce Pritchard); A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick) (as Alex)


O Lucky Man! (Lindsay Anderson) (as Mick Travis)


Royal Flash (Lester) (as Capt. Harry Flashman)


Voyage of the Damned (Rosenberg) (as Max Gunter)


Aces High (Gold) (as Gresham)


She Fell among Thieves (Clive Donner—for TV); The Cat from Outer Space (Tokar) (as Mr. Stallwood)


The Passage (J. Lee Thompson) (as Capt. Von Berkow); Time after Time (Meyer) (as H. G. Wells)


Caligula (Brass—produced in 1977) (title role); Look Back in Anger (David Jones)


Britannia Hospital (Lindsay Anderson) (as Mick Travis)


The Compleat Beatles (Montgomery—doc) (as narrator); Cat People (Schrader) (as Paul Gallier); Hardcore (James Kenelm Clark)


Get Crazy (Flip Out) (Arkush) (as Reggie Wanker); Blue Thunder (Badham) (as Col. Cochrane); Cross Creek (Ritt) (as Maxwell Perkins)


Arthur the King (Merlin and the Sword) (Clive Donner—for TV, produced in 1983) (as Arthur); Gulag (Roger Young—for TV) (as the Englishman)


Monte Carlo (Page—for TV) (as Christopher Quinn)


Buy & Cell (Boris) (as Warden Tennant); Sunset (Edwards) (as Alfie Alperin)


The Caller (Arthur Allan Seidelman—produced in 1987) (title role); Il Maestro (Hansel) (as Walter Goldberg); The Hateful Dead (Mortacci) (Citti)


Disturbed (Charles Winkler) (as Dr. Derek Russell); Moon 44 (Intruder) (Emmerich) (as Major Lee); Class of 1999 (Mark Lester) (as Dr. Miles Langford); Jezebel's Kiss (Keith) (as Ben Faberson); Snake Eyes (Reid); Happily Ever After (Howley—animation, for TV) (as voice of Lord Maliss)


Tsareubiitsa (Assassin of the Tsar) (Shakhnazarov) (as Timofeef/Yurovsky); The Light in the Jungle (Schweitzer) (Hofmyer) (as Dr. Albert Schweitzer)


The Player (Altman) (as himself)


Chain of Desire (Lopez) (as Hubert Bailey); Bopha! (Freeman) (as De Villiers); Night Train to Venice (Quinterio) (as stranger); Vend d'est (East Wind) (Enrico) (as Gen. Smyslowosky); The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (as Gabriel)


Milk Money (Benjamin) (as Waltzer); Star Trek Generations (David Carson) (as Dr. Tolian Soran); Seasons of the Heart (Lee Grant—for TV) (as Alfred McGinnis); Fatal Pursuit (Louzil)


Dangerous Indiscretion (as Roger Everett); Tank Girl (Talalay) (as Kesslee); Exquisite Tenderness (Schenkel) (as Dr. Roger Stein); The Man Who Wouldn't Die (for TV) (as Bernard Drake); Kids of the Round Table (Tinnell) (as Merlin); Fist of the North Star (Randel)


The Little Riders (Connor) (as Capt. Kessel); Superman: The Last Son of Krypton (Beda, Jeralds—for TV) (as voice of John Corbin); Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys (Rader, Schwartz—series for TV) (as voice of Rhesus 2); Pearl (Burrows, Chakos—series for TV) (as Professor Stephen Pynchon); Wing Commander Academy (as voice of Commodore Geoffrey Tolwyn—series for TV)


Star Trek: Generations (Ffinch, Louie) (Dr. Tolian Soran); 2103: The Deadly Wake (Jackson) (as Captain Sean Murdoch); Lexx: The Dark Zone (Donovan, Matsutani—mini for TV) (as Yottskry); Hugo Pool (Robert Downey Sr.) (as Henry Dugay); Mr. Magoo (Tong) (as Austin Cloquet)


Nazis: The Occult Conspiracy (Atkinson, Barron) (as Narrator); The Gardener (Silent Screams) (Hickox) (as Ben); TheFirst 9 ½ Weeks (Wright) (as Francois Dubois); Beings (Matthews) (as Ian); Fantasy Island (Adler, Cragg—series for TV) (as Mr. Roarke)


Y2K (Pepin) (as Seward); Southern Cross (Becket) (as Felipe Solano); My Life So Far (Hudson) (as Morris Macintosh); Love Lies Bleeding (Tannen); Can of Worms (Schneider) (as Barnabus)


The David Cassidy Story (Bender) (as Jack Cassidy); St. Patrick: The Irish Legend (Robert Hughes) (as Quentin)


By McDOWELL: articles—

"Malcolm McDowell: The Liberals, They Hate Clockwork," inter-view with Tom Burke, in New York Times, 30 January 1972.

"Malcolm McDowell: A Very Low Tea with Jude Jade," interview in Interview (New York), July 1973.

"O Lucky Man!," interview in Take One (Montreal), Septem-ber 1973.

"Something More," interview with G. Gow, in Films and Filming (London), October 1975.

Interview in Photoplay (London), February 1980.

L'Ecran fantastique (Paris), July/August 1983.

Interview with D. Parra, in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), June 1989.

Interview with Kitty Bowe Hearty, in Premiere (New York), April 1995.

On McDOWELL: articles—

Photoplay (London), December 1981.

Ciné Revue (Paris), 19 January 1984.

Bernstein, R., "Malcolm McDowell Post-Clockwork," in New York Times, 14 March 1993.

Beeler, M., "Star Trek: Generations," in Cinefantastique (Forest Park), vol. 25/26, no. 6/1 1994.

Beeler, M., "O Lucky Man!" in Cinefantastique (Forest Park), vol. 27, no. 3, 1995.

Beeler, M., "El-Aurian Heavy," in Cinefantastique (Forest Park), vol. 26, no. 2, 1995.

* * *

Malcolm McDowell began his film career in the late 1960s and early 1970s in highly regarded and frequently daring British films. Later following in the tradition of the "working actor," McDowell moved often and without apology from highly praised work to less artistically justifiable appearances in mediocre productions. His major collaborative relationship has been with the late director Lindsay Anderson, who discovered him and gave him the role of Mick Travis in If . . .: a metaphorical examination of conformity and rebellion among young gentlemen in boarding school. McDowell went on to work with Anderson (playing a completely dissimilar Mick Travis) in the satire O Lucky Man!, the script of which was based in part on the actor's own experiences as a coffee salesman. Subsequently McDowell made his New York stage debut in Anderson's off-Broadway revival of Look Back in Anger. The two collaborated a final time in 1981 with Britannia Hospital, where—again as a "Mick Travis"—McDowell had one of the most spectacularly violent and funny death scenes in cinema.

The role McDowell has been most associated with, however, is the raping, murderous gang-leader Alex in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Now considered a key performance of seventies cinema, McDowell's Alex is a character both winsome and appalling, pathetic and high-spirited. Despite the fact that this performance was followed by one as a suddenly sweet Mick in O Lucky Man!, McDowell would never completely avoid the typecasting set in place by his bloodthirsty characters in If . . . and A Clockwork Orange. This reputation for villainy would be cemented by McDowell's turn as the eponymous Roman Emperor in the ballyhooed Caligula, a pornographic cult film financed by Penthouse magazine.

Although he maintains a reputation for on-screen carnage and sexually explicit material, McDowell has played other types of characters with alacrity. McDowell starred in Long Ago Tomorrow as a gentle paraplegic and had other notable roles during the 1970s in Royal Flash, Voyage of the Damned, and Aces High, in which the actor essayed the role of a disillusioned World War I officer in the Royal Flying Corps.

During the 1980s and 1990s McDowell worked on both sides of the Atlantic, but to sporadic and fading accolades. His last memorable roles were once more at polar extremes. He played H. G. Wells opposite his future wife Mary Steenburgen in the fantasy Time after Time. Here again, McDowell was a master of conflicting qualities; his Wells was both innocent and shrewdly brilliant as he attempted to capture Jack the Ripper in modern day San Francisco. Also arresting was his role as Nastassja Kinski's disturbed brother in Paul Schrader's Cat People, where incest was a key motivation behind his character. Unfortunately, McDowell's luck seemed to run out in the mideighties. Blue Thunder was a financial success but gave McDowell only a conventional villain's role. His other parts in that period were usually as supporting characters or in uninteresting films, many made for television.

McDowell seemed the perfect choice to "kill off" Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek Generations, but his Soran in that film was a stock character with only McDowell's piercing eyes to distinguish him in an overcrowded cast. Virtually all of McDowell's roles since Cat People hint at what he could contribute to the cinema if given an opportunity. His Mick Jagger parody in Get Crazy would have seemed hilarious if given better lines, while the awful Night Train to Venice suggests how good he might have been as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.

—Daniel Humphrey

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McDowell, Malcolm

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