"Maybe I'd like to earn a million dollars in a year, but I couldn't physically do three films a year." - Malcolm in 1973 (who now has done double that in a year).
Malcolm McDowell was born Malcolm John Taylor to Charles
and Edna Taylor in Leeds
which is in North Industrial England on June 13, 1943, one of three children and
the only boy. One sister Gloria is older and Judith is younger, making him the
middle child. He lived in Leeds until he was three then the family moved to Liverpool.
He had an aunt Edna, Amy & Vera, a cousin Graham who has a daughter Kate. His boyhood memories are of the Kop and the No. 28 bus and a sign that read, 'What
would you do if Jesus Christ came to Liverpool?' And written underneath, 'Move
Ian St. John to inside-left.' 1
Even though some of his roles are larger than life he isn't a very tall man at 5 foot 10. He took McDowell, his mother's maiden name, because he wanted to get into the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). At the time there was a semi famous actor in Britain with the name Malcolm Taylor. The SAG only allows 1 person per name and he became McDowell for the rest of his life.
He was brought up in Bridlington, where his parents owned and ran a pub "The Bull and the Dog". He was an obstreperous only child who played truant, ran away from home for the first time at three years old ("I was naughty just to get attention") and was sent, at 11, from the Tunbridge boarding school to the Cannock House School in Eltham, Kent, which he hated at first, but was where he decided to be an actor. "The headmaster was very keen on theatricals and I played all the Shakespearean parts before I left, which gave me tremendous confidence."2 He probably meant that he appeared in all the plays that were offered during his time there from 1956-61. Malcolm's first acting photo 1956 Headmaster Mr. L.F. Baker was very encouraging to the young thespian. It was an all boys school as were all schools during that time. In fact he never attended a school with girls. He didn't want to go to Kent, but his dad forced him since he was a snob and wouldn't allow his son to go to a regular school. Malcolm hated their ways and fought against it, as he would do in if..., and was beaten every Monday. He even learned Latin and Greek while in school and majored in economics because he didn't know what else to pick and played rugger (rugby) ("that's rougher than American football. There's absolutely no padding used, and you really end up with broken bones") because bad things would happen to you if you didn't.3 He harbors no resentment for this rough treatment, indeed he eventually became head boy and captain of both the rugger and cricket teams.4 The picture appeared in the 1959-60 yearbook magazine which was called the "Sea Horse" which in Latin translates as "Hippo Campus"!?
It was also around this time that his love for race cars began. He lived near a racetrack during his early teens and was always fascinated by them. They had the British Grand Prix there and his heroes were the racing stars of the time and he dreamt of racing them there.5
Malcolm graduated and for a time attended the London Academy of Music and Art to study acting. He was a good student, but like many people wasn't cut out for the rigors of school. "When you begin to get privileges and become a senior boy, it's a pleasant sort of existence - not much work to do, a little cricket, a little Rugger, everyone lackeys around for you. But that was after six years of sheer hell." His father was in the RAF and was of working class stature and eventually bought "The Bull and the Dog" pub/boarding house in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
At this time he said, "I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I guess I always would have wound up being an actor by fair or foul means. I was lucky that it happened so quickly after I left school." 6 Malcolm had received a scholarship to university in Sussex, but decided to work as a wine waiter at the family pub instead. The pub eventually went out of business because his father was an alcoholic and drank up all the profits. 7 Malcolm learned to love a pint as well, though now he no longer drinks. He had to clean up and eventually became a driving instructor.
During this time he went from job to job. Malcolm explains "I first went to work for a football pool firm - a pool is like a lottery - and while I was there I took a course in time-work study because I thought it would help me get another job. Then through one of my father's drinking mates, I went to work as a coffee salesman (at the American company of Chase and Sandborn). That was fantastic. That year became my drama school! I had all of Yorkshire as my territory, the largest county in England. I used to ride the Yorkshire moors - that's Bronte country, desolate, wild - with my samples of coffee beans. I would go from one cafe to the next trying to get the proprietor to take my coffee instead of whoever else's he was taking. I became a man of many faces and made out very well. If I walked into a high-class restaurant, I'd act very pukka and talk with a fancy accent. If it was a working saloon, I'd talk like one of them. I used to wear a bowler hat - that got a big laugh in Yorkshire - and worked out all sorts of tricks to get everyone interested in buying my coffee. The proprietors of those places are usually very busy and don't want to listen to someone telling them their coffee isn't much good, and besides the majority of them were Cypriot Greeks and could hardly speak English, so it was tough work. I made about twenty-five quid a week though, which was pretty good for a nineteen-year old."
He sold coffee, peanuts and whipped potatoes, which he became very good at making, to everyone including prisons, mental homes and power plants. For a time he was also a coffee taster. "I kept at it until one day while I was driving along I said to myself, 'I've had it', and I quit out of sheer boredom. That's when I decided to become an actor. I always had the idea in the back of my mind that if nothing else seemed to work out, I'd take up acting because it was the easiest thing in the world. That's how naive I was in those days!" 8 He only lasted nine months as a salesman, but this is where he would gain inspiration to co-write the semi-autobiographical 1973 film O Lucky Man! which started out as Coffee Man.9
His next job was as a messenger. During this time his girlfriend vanished mysteriously every Friday night, "and Friday was payday, y'know, so I thought she was seein' another man.".10 He pressured her as to what was going on and she confessed that she was taking elocution + acting classes and was afraid he would laugh at her. 11 One night he phoned his girlfriend at the home of her elocution teacher from the Cavern, a local dive where the Beatles were making their start. "You have a marvelous voice," said the teacher. "Do you want to be an actor?" McDowell began taking acting lessons from Mrs. Harold Ackley, 82 - "She offered me cigarettes and sherry at 3 in the afternoon. I thought that was very civilized." 12 He became enchanted by this blind acting teacher. She was an ex-silent film star who became like a mother to him and he loved hearing her stories about the Golden Age of film. This is when he decided that acting wasn't a degrading profession. After months of private study to get rid of his Yorkshire accent and to learn proper etiquette his career as a messenger ended when he participated in a national acting competition, which led to a rep company in Devonshire and later the Isle of Wight, working in a playhouse that was actually on a pier over the water! 13 After bragging to a dismayed casting director in a bar who desperately needed an actor that night he made his debut in Henry V and bombed. But still, after a year and three months he was able to join the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company in 1964 at the Aldwych Theatre.
Other up and coming actors were also working there like Patrick Stewart (Picard on Star Trek) whom Malcolm said "Patrick was a member of that company and so was I, but there were 100 actors in that company so it wasn't like we were buddies together. We weren't, but we knew each other and got on quite well" 14, John Rhys-Davies (Sallah from Indiana Jones) and Timothy Dalton (James Bond). He would work with Dalton soon after on 1967's British TV Show Sat'Day While Sunday (his first major TV role after bit parts). Malcolm would reunite exactly 30 years later with Stewart on 1994's Star Trek: Generations and with Rhys-Davies on 1993's Wing Commander III. He was also able to work with leading man David Warner as Hamlet, whom he would co-star with 13 years later in Time After Time. After months of the same plays over and over it became mind numbingly boring and Malcolm resorted to practical jokes, anything to get the other actors to laugh. He spent 18 months carrying a spear. "I loathed it, with venom. The world's great ensemble troupe!? It's an arse-creeping hierarchy without the slightest interest in what talent there may be among the lesser company members. Herded us 12 to a dressing room like cattle. I never even met Peter Hall, the director then, until the day I left." 15 Malcolm explains, "Peter Hall, who ran the company - you have to go meet with him at the end of season and he would give you your marching orders or tell you what exciting things lay in prospect for you. So, six of us met in the pub, The Dirty Duck, and we were young revolutionaries if you like and troublemakers, agitators, you know, and we would say -- I remember saying things like, 'This is all crap. I'm going in there. I'm going to tell this guy to stick this damn company -- I feel like I am here just to move furniture,' because that is basically what the young actors do. They come in, they bring on the crown or throne and then the actor comes in and sits on it and you stand by it and then you take the damn thing off. That is what drove me nuts. Now, there were six of us, I remember saying, 'We're going in there. We are going to tell this guy where to stick this damn company' and, of course, I was the first in and I did tell him, 'There is no way. I don't care what you had in mind for me. I'm out of here. I'm gone. I'm history' and I'm going off. He said, 'What are you going to do?' I said, 'I'm going to be a movie star.' Ha, ha, ha. Laugh, laugh, laugh. So, I'm waiting for the other five to come back to The Dirty Duck and they come in eventually and I said, 'You told him?' 'Well, he offered me the third duke from the right and you know, I think it could be a great part.' 'Twelve lines!' 'Well, there are ways I could put a lot of emotion in...' I was the only one. I talked myself out of a job.' 16
Malcolm then worked as a messenger while taking TV roles. His first role behind the camera was a small part on the British TV show Coronation Street which led to Pig Iron Johnny in 1965. He also had bit parts in shows like Z cars, Dock Green Emergency and Ward 10. In 1967 he filmed 14 episodes of the series Sat'Day While Sunday with Timothy Dalton and Sara Jane Gwillim. He has said little about it except "[it] was really appalling". It didn't pay well either, but it was enough to get him a small part in a film. His first big screen role would have been in 1967's Poor Cow. He had a two minute scene in the role of Billy where he came in out of the rain completely soaked for a love scene with Carol White. After repeated takes where he was constantly dosed with water and was freezing, they never could seem to match up the exterior footage so it was deleted. Back then, it actually had to rain, no computer generated effects existed. Two years later Malcolm tells a completely different story, "I didn't get on with the director and he scrapped my part. He wanted his actors to improvise everything and I didn't care for it. I want a script to work with, not just be caught on film doing something for the first time whether it's right or not." 17
Even though this scene was deleted, rumor has it director Lindsay Anderson saw the scene and was impressed, but this can't be possible since there wasn't anything to see. David Sherwin explains. "It was an audition held at the Jimmy Edwards comedy playhouse in London. It seems that Malcolm and Christine Noonan just started grappling with each other right there on the stage out of the blue and David Sherwin jumped up and said "I wouldn't bother going on with the audition. You've got Mick and the girl." To which Lindsay replied, "Oh you wouldn't would you? That's a brilliant way to cast a film. Piss off!" David repeats, "They're brilliant!" So Lindsay says, "Well then fucking well tell them. Their names are Malcolm McDowell and Christine Noonan." 18 And the rest was history. Lindsay made a risky move casting this unknown 25 year old in the lead in his 1968 film if.... The gamble paid off as Malcolm was instantly catapulted to stardom in Britain, but the very British film failed to knock over audiences elsewhere.
Malcolm was so excited by the films success that he wanted to make another one right away. Malcolm said to Lindsay, "Let's not sit around, let's do another film." He said, "Malcolm, what do you think? Scripts don't grow on trees; if you want to do another film, go and write it." So I told him I'd had an idea for a film about a coffee salesman and he said, "Oh good, all right, go write it." So I did. I wrote quite a few scenes and he read them. Of course, he thought they were awful and basically "no hopers," you know. He didn't think we'd have a chance. But I knew that was his way of encouraging me, so I kept on with it."19 Lindsay was really trying to get rid of him, but Malcolm set out to prove him wrong. He learned the hard way that is wasn't as easy as he would have liked it. The basic idea of the script using adventures from his old job as a coffee salesman, which he called Coffee Man. He turned the script over to David Sherwin who wrote if.... and went off to film ACO (A Clockwork Orange). When he was through, he found out it has been renamed O Lucky Man!. The final film he and Lindsay worked on was he 1982's Britannia Hospital. The three films make up some bizarre sort of working English mans' trilogy also known as the Mick Travis Trilogy - same character name, but different characters. Lindsay also directed the 1980 version of Look Back in Anger a 1956 play previously filmed with Richard Burton. The two became life long friends and they did seven projects together. In 1972 Malcolm said, "I have only one friend whom I lean on heavily. When I can't see the wood for the trees, I've got to go to him. He's a director: Lindsay Anderson." 20 The only way their friendship ended, was when his mentor died of a heart attack in France in 1994. His death must have affected him greatly as Malcolm was even a pallbearer at his funeral. His only other mentor was Stanley Kubrick, but since they never really spoke after ACO there is no comparing him to Lindsay. He has paintings of both men in his office that his wife Kelley painted for him.21
His work on if.... in turn led to his winning the role of Alex in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick after seeing if.... had said he would not make the film without McDowell playing the lead. 22 Kubrick called Malcolm over to his house and gave him the ACO novel to read. Malcolm had never read it before, and preceded to read it three times because he didn't "get it" on the first two reads. Kubrick was thrilled when Malcolm told him "it's a modern classic" and Malcolm invited him over to his house to talk about it, not knowing Kubrick preferred to stay at home. Malcolm asked him if he was making the film and wanted him as the lead and Kubrick responded, "Oh yeah, Malc, that's what this is all about."23 Malcolm finished The Raging Moon (Long Ago Tomorrow) and begun to study the ACO script relentlessly, but had no idea how to play the part. He had no experiences of his own like Alex did to draw from. He went to Lindsay and he told him to play it like the caning scene in if...where he went in smiling, so he did. Malcolm and Kubrick spent weeks together preparing the role, playing ping pong, chess and eventually becoming friends. Many times during the filming Malcolm would ask what Kubrick wanted in the scene and he wanted Malcolm to come up with ideas of his own, which also led to many, many takes. The rape scene alone took almost a week to film, and used around 30 canes. Also, the classic Singin' in the Rain scene in came about because it was the only song that he knew all the words to (Malcolm said that then, later he is changed his story). 24 Malcolm's one eyelash came about as Malcolm was putting on the false eyelashes in front of a bathroom mirror. He had just put the first one on when Kubrick walked in and said "that's it, don't put the other one on." The role brought him international exposure, earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a drama (I always thought it was a black comedy) and is the film he will be most remembered for until the day he dies (and beyond). Making the film wasn't easy though. During the Ludovico scene where his eyes are held open he scratched his cornea and was left temporarily blinded in one eye. He realized the great pain when he was driving home after the days shooting. The final thing he did was the narration. "It took two weeks to do the narration and we did it at Stanley's house I'll never forget, because we used go out and play ping pong in this tent and then come back and work on it."25 One great heartache for Malcolm was that he wanted to continue his relationship after the making of the movie like he did with Lindsay, but Kubrick blew him off. Presumably from something Malcolm said during an interview. Five other actors from ACO appeared in Kubrick's next film, Barry Lyndon, but Malcolm was not one of them. Malcolm has called him a bastard in the past, but always respected the man and the work they did together. In 1995 after much reflection he admits, "I think I've said a lot of things about Stanley and a lot of things I've quite regretted." 26 After Kubrick's death in 1999, Malcolm had lost both his mentors, and maybe he started to feel old for the first time. At least he knows that he was the only actor to have a starring role in two of the all-time greatest director's movies.
After ACO he went right back to working on OLM. Years later he talked about Alan Price (ex Animals and composer of the OLM soundtrack) "He said to me once and I was furious with him, but he said 'I have to bear the cross of 'O Lucky Man!'.' Because he has to sing it every night. I said, 'Alan, what a fucking great cross to bear. If all artists had that kind of cross to bear they'd be very happy. Mine is A Clockwork Orange.' I think this is Alan Price's greatest work".27
Around this time in an interviews he said "I know exactly what I will do-direct a film within five years when I've accumulated enough knowledge. I think if you are semi-coherent, semi-intelligent you could not remain an actor unless you're content to let yourself become a monster. That's the only way to survive it."28 It is safe to say he has since changed his mind since 30 years later he still has not directed a film.
His first visit to America was to promote if.... which did poorly in the US. Later he would return to pick up an award for Kubrick in 1971 and to do a slew of interviews for ACO in late 1971 and early 1972. He was a smoker at this time which can be seen in stills and interviews, he has since quit.
After OLM he made more films in the UK which were rarely seen outside that country like Royal Flash (which he had to learn how to use a sword) and Voyage of the Damned. Neither of these films did well at the box office and the British film industry collapsed around this time forcing him to move to America in 1976 to continue working. During this time his long-time girlfriend was looking for a commitment. On April 21, 1975, after dating for nearly seven years, he married for the first time to the beautiful Margot Bennett Dullea, ex-wife of actor Kier Dullea of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame. They two met in 1967 because she was the publicist on if.... They divorced in 1980.
In early 1976 he spent nearly a year working on what would later be one of the most infamous films of all-time - Caligula. It was based on the work by Gore Vidal and financed by Penthouse Magazine founder Bob Guiccione. Gore wanted an arty film and Bob wanted more of a porno which made Gore drop from the project and demand his name be removed from the film. This upset Malcolm as he and Gore had hit it off, "What do you want me to do?" he asked Gore, "should I quit the film, they have my name all over it too." Gore told him it would be a bad move for the young stars career so Malcolm stayed. After It was filmed it sat around for over two years. Originally it was what Gore had wanted, but Guiccione literally stole the film away from the director Tinto Brass. He filmed his own sex scenes on the same sets at night using his Penthouse pets. He had never filmed anything before and this didn't sit well with Tinto. Guiccione with his 60 miles of stolen film edited all the sex scenes into the film back in England.29 Malcolm later said, "There is this scene where I am admiring an eagle and Bob cut in this 12 minute lesbian scene and then cut to me looking at it approvingly."30 Malcolm has gone back and forth from avoiding the film to accepting it. "I'm proud of it. Although all the porno stuff [that Bob Guccione added] is so boring." 31 After spending 11 months in Rome making Caligula and because of that wouldn't return for more than 10 years, and only then to make The Caller.32
His first American movie was 1979's Time After Time. It seemed Malcolm was on his way to super stardom, as he was now a "hot property". The film was marketed as a Jack the Ripper flick instead of a love story and didn't do well at the box office. This was upsetting to all involved since it was a film they really believed in. While still married he became involved with young co-star Mary Steenburgen, who was ten years his junior and new to feature films. They became involved in 1978, but had to wait for his divorce to go through to marry.33 The two were married while Mary was three months pregnant in a small and private ceremony on September 29, 1980 with Mike Kaplan as the best man. They had two children, Lily Amanda McDowell born January 22, 1981 and Charles Malcolm McDowell (named after his grandfather) born on July 10, 1983. They acted together again in Faerie Tale Theatre's Little Red Riding Hood in 1982, Cross Creek in 1983 and on Broadway in 1987's Holiday. The two were divorced in 1990. He doesn't like to talk about his personal life, especially his ex-wives as he is a private man.
Though he was somewhat known for his theater work in Britain it wasn't until 1980s Look Back in Anger that he made his American theater premiere. The play opened to rave reviews and was filmed for video in a slightly different version in a record three days by Lindsay Anderson. He feels all actors should get back to the roots of acting in the theater every so often and he will do a play every few years. The last time he proved this was in 1995 when he did a two man play with Scott Bakula called The Importance of Being Wilde.
In the mid 80s the years of alcohol and drugs including $1000s a week on cocaine, womanizing and running around caught up with him. He seemed to age almost overnight. Somewhere in the mid-eighties the hot property, dark haired, young star turned into the not-so-hot white haired "old" man. Another problem was playing roles so young when he was much older, his age caught up with him. 34 Suddenly the big roles dried up and Malcolm played many small roles and did too many B movies. After around 10 years though, something happened. While the 80s weren't so kind to Malcolm because of the collapse of the British Film industry in the 70s and starting over in America, the 90s embraced him. While some thought it was a disaster to play in the semi-porno Caligula, it brought him to the attention of the Russians where the film is huge. It also earned him a great double role in the stunning classic The Assassin of the Tsar, which hasn't been released in the US. The film was literally shot on zero budget - they used carbon paper to die his hair black! They even filmed the whole movie twice. Once in English and once in Russian, which of course Malcolm doesn't speak.
During this time he got a divorce from Mary. Both have since remarried, Malcolm to third his wife, Kelley Kuhr in 1991 (he doesn't waste time!), who is 29 years Malcolm's junior. She is an artist and they met in an art gallery under Malcolm's Los Angeles apartment. Mary also remarried to actor Ted Danson of Cheers fame in November 1995. After Mary married Ted she said it was the first time she was truly in love 35 (even though in 1982 she said of Malcolm "when I met him I realized I've found that fairy mad love I was waiting for." 36) Malcolm has never discussed the breakup, but we can only guess Mary had enough of his drug problem and fell out of love. The two remain close because of their children. When asked if he would encourage his children to become actors he said he would encourage it, but tell them it is a hard and difficult life, especially for women. 37
In 1992 he filmed Bopha! in South Africa and was scared for his life as there were shootings outside the hotel every night. 38 He also landed three major roles back-to-back-to-back. First was 1993s Wing Commander III, then his biggest budget role in 1994s Star Trek: Generations and 1995s Tank Girl which tanked at the box office. While the plots of the last two are forgettable, Malcolm played those villains with the sort of wicked delight that made him famous to begin with. He was back at the top of the game where he belonged.
Now US TV opened up as well as more big-budget work such as the smash hit follow up to WC3 "Wing Commander 4", "Mr. Magoo" with Leslie Nielson and the TV series Pearl plus the remake of "Fantasy Island." The roles have never dried up and he is constantly working.
He usually resides in a suburb north of Los Angeles. He even served on the Honorary Advisory Board of Ojai Film Festival 2000 and again in 2001. His talent agent is Paradigm in nearby Los Angeles. He also has another house in Britain and has a Summer retreat in Tuscany, Italy (which has been compared to California). Tuscany is a region on the west coast, off the Tyrrehnian Sea, north of Rome. It is known for its culture, cuisine and, some say the purest form of the Italian language. Its most famous city Florence. His next door neighbor there is Frank Yablans who produced the The Caller. 39 Other stars have also been lured by Tuscany's beauty lately including Russell Crowe.
Even though he has lived in America since the 70s he is not an American citizen though he does have a green card. Malcolm pays his taxes here and is a resident alien, but it's much easier for him to get work in Europe if he's still a British citizen.40 He spent 1976-86 away from England and during that time he became Americanized and hates the stiff British ways. He wants to be able to fall back on Britain if work gets "soft" here. He loves the no nonsense American way and feels awkward in Britain because he spent a generation away from there. He finally returned to England to do the play Holiday by Philip Barry (which didn't get good reviews and Malcolm removed it from his resume).41
There is another actor in his family, his nephew is Alexander "Sid" Siddig Julian Basher of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fame (no other actor is related to him for example Roddy McDowall or Andie MacDowell). Malcolm and his wife also love dogs they already had 4 in 1995, he says his wife buys them every time he goes away. Two are bulls, one French mastiff and one bull mastiff. Their names are Wilbur, Rufus, Mavis, Henry, Madge and Agnes (who sings).42
Malcolm is most known from four roles - Alex in ACO, which he has said "If you do something like A Clockwork Orange you never escape it. Never. I don't fight it anymore. I just do it.",43 Caligula, Dr. Soran, the man who killed Captain Kirk (twice) in Star Trek: Generations and to the younger crowd he is Admiral Tolywn of Wing Commander fame (he has said kids come up to him in stores asking if he is Tolywn).44 But few know that the man has been nearly 100 films, acting non stop for over 34 years. He is always one to try something different which is why he got into multimedia acting roles, he has acted in four though the Multimedia game scene has dropped off and he probably won't be doing more. Even with that under his belt he isn't a computer whiz and had to call friend Chris Roberts to help him set up the computer so his son could play Wing Commander III, (he had a Mac, Chris sent an IBM).45
He tends to avoid new technology, he doesn't use email or computers, but he does have a cell phone. He tends to avoid the Internet because brain dead Trekkies made death threats online because he killed Kirk. Not that he was afraid, just that he was turned off by the stupidity 46 and feels chat rooms are a waste of time. 47 He has a passion for collecting antique tin trucks, spending as much as a $1000 dollars for a rare one. 48 One of his pastimes is shopping at antique centers and auctions hunting for pieces for his collection.49 Malcolm is passionate about driving, plus he loves radio and voice work which is why he plays many voice roles. And even though he puts comedy into most every role, he took the role of Stephen Pynchon of Pearl his US TV series sit-com debut to prove once and for all he can "do" comedy.50 Malcolm's secret to his acting and what makes him so appealing in every role he plays is that he makes sure he is having fun in the role. He feels if he's having fun, then so is the audience. He also maintains a very youthful outlook on life. Even though he's in his late-fifties he still feels and carries on like he's in his twenties.51 Malcolm has been all over the acting world even though he has been pigeonholed as a villain and a sci-fi player. Those were the only roles he was offered in the mid 90s, but since he always has fun playing the villains he doesn't mind.
In truth, he is one of the most versatile actors there is and it seems that there isn't a role hasn't played including real life good guys (such as Albert Schweitzer and H.G. Wells) to Shakespearean Theater like "Henry V" and Broadway plays like "In Celebration", to animated voices in "Captain Simian" and multimedia "Wing Commander". From British TV - "Sat-day while Sunday" to US TV Fantasy Island, from true historical pieces - "The Light in the Jungle" to historical fantasy roles (the only one to play BOTH King Arthur in "Merlin and the Sword" and Merlin in "Kids of the Round Table") and from big budget sci-fi "Star Trek: Generations" to low budget sci-fi "Cyborg 3" (in which they only had enough money to pay him for one day) from horror "Cat People" to horrible Southern Cross from Disney "Can of Worms" to X-Rated "Caligula" and from TV movie "Seasons of the Heart" to Playboy TV movie "Ringer". From comedy "Get Crazy" (in which he even sang) to tragedy "Voyage of the Damned". From young hoodlum in ACO to father in "The David Cassidy Story". From a killer in Gangster No. 1 to the Angel Gabriel in the Second Greatest Story ever told. He has covered much sexuality in his roles even appearing nude more than any other leading actor from straight roles Royal Flash to bisexual Voyage of the Damned to interracial Britannia Hospital to gay in Chain of Desire. He has even appeared in foreign language films like il Maestro and Vent d'east and also appeared as himself in a cameo in The Player. It seems there is no role Malcolm cannot handle as he begins acting in his 5th decade! He has mentioned he had bought the rites to "Monster Butler" which was the last thing Lindsay Anderson ever worked on.52 He is supposed to star in and direct it. This would be his first time behind the camera, but the project has still not been started. There was also talk of a sequel to if... which Malcolm who be in once again as an older Mick with a normal life, but it never reached completion.53
In 2000 he received his greatest review on Gangster No. 1 - from his 16-year-old son, Charlie. Malcolm said, "Charlie's a surfer in Los Angeles and he's never really watched anything of mine, but he jumped up at the end of the screening and said, `Dad, that film rocks'... I was given a seal of approval that means more to me than any critic's words - the most glowing review would mean nothing compared to that one line.54 He appeared in two high profile TV movies in 2000, the David Cassidy Story and the St. Patrick the Irish Legend. He even did a hilarious surprise narration job on a South Park episode.
Though he only had one major theatrically released film in 2001, Just Visiting, Malcolm made more personal appearances than ever before, seven in 5 months. From charity, as an auctioneer in Ojai, to personal appearances like the Utah Q+A. He was finally recognized with a Tribute in Los Angeles in June and another one in October at the Mill Valley Film Festival. He even did two film festivals in his town - one for A Life in Pictures and the other for the 2nd Annual Film Festival. On November 5th he even returned to New York for a benefit reading. 2001 also saw Malcolm's return to the talk show circuit not seen since he promoted Star Trek and Tank Girl in 1994-5. He appeared on the Craig Kilborn show for the first time as well as two appearances on Politically Correct. He did some TV work as well appearing as another historical figure, the Sheriff of Nottingham, in Princess of Thieves. He did an interview for an AFI special as well as an episode of Night Visions which didn't air until July 2002.
During the filming of My Life So Far he saw people playing golf at St. Andrews and thought it was a waste of time, but soon after he took up the sport.55 Now he plays as often as possible and always hits the course on breaks between filming most recently on The Barber and the The Company. He has become quite good shooting as low as a 78.
One thing for sure is since he starting acting in school plays in 1956 he hasn't slowed down a bit after 45 years. In fact, he works much more now than he did in the 70s when he made maybe one film a year. Just a glance at his filmography will show you that he is here to stay. To give you an example, in 2000 Entertainment Weekly voted Samuel L. Jackson the most working actor of the 1990s with 57 movies. During that same period Malcolm appeared in 45.
In March 2003 he was the President of the Paris Film Festival. He also had three premieres for larger indie films - I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Red Roses and Petrol and The Company. At the end of the year he appeared in his first video game in over 6 years Superman: Shadow of Apokolips reprising the voice of Metallo he did on the animated series in the 90s.
On January 18, 2004 he became a father for the third time when his second son Beckett was born. In April he was in a very mainstream movie as another real life good guy in Stroke of Genius. On August 23rd he paid tribute to his mentor Lindsay Anderson on the 10th anniversary of his death at a festival in Scotland by doing a one man show of his memories of the man. On September 3rd he was presented with a lifetime achievement award in Gaul, France at the Deauville Film Festival. He also made another video game voice appearance, his last one so far in Champions of Norrath.
In 2005 he made three more foreign films including his second in Russia Mirror Wars: Reflection One. Becoming the first foreign actor to star in multiple Russian films. He also went to India for The Curse of King Tut's Tomb and Exitz. This year also saw his daughter Lilly get her first big role, a recurring part on the Fox TV series Over There. He also returned to lindsayandersonfilms.comxa.com the world of music for the first time since Get Crazy by appearing on a Pink Floyd tribute CD called Back Against the Wall.
2006 was quiet on the film front with only a few roles including his first film with his son behind the camera called Bye, Bye Benjamin. It is an excellent black comedy and the short is the first directed by Charlie. It is also the first time a documentary was made by none other than Jan Harlan, Stanley Kubrick's brother-in-law called O Lucky Malcolm!. On the TV front he appeared in two prominent series Monk & Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He also reprised his role in the HBO hit TV series Entourage for the third season in a pair of episodes. It remains to be seen if he will return next season. Soon after he appeared on a second Pink Floyd tribute CD called Return to the Dark Side of the Moon. Malcolm as Alex was listed as #100 of the 100 Greatest performances of all time in the 4/06 issue of Premiere. He was the only person to be featured twice in Entertainment Weekly's 25 Most Controversial Films of all time 6/16/06 with ACO & Caligula.
On December 23, 2006 he had his fourth child, his second with Kelley and his third son named Finnian Anderson McDowell whom his mom described as, "He was a big boy and he's very cute...looks like Beckett. So I guess he looks like Malcolm."56 He also has many forthcoming projects including his third role in a Russian film in the massive European mini series War & Peace. In August 2007 had top billing in the remake of the horror classic Halloween in the role made famous by Donald Pleasance. This is a huge role for him in a big budget mainstream US release that will bring awareness to a whole new generation who isn't familiar with them. There is no end in site for this hard working actor and fans will have to work hard to catch all his various appearances.
Not a year goes by where ACO doesn't appear on best of lists which always keeps him and the film in the news. Malcolm's mother passed away around 2000 and his cousin Kate described her as "She was a lovely old girl.". They had a lovely family reunion at Malcolm's sister's Judith who was married to Lord Birkett in West Sussex at this time. A couple years later Judith died of cancer.
On January 7, 2009 Malcolm had his fifth child, his third one in 5 years named Seamus Hudson McDowell. He needs to give Kelley a girl already or this could keep going. at only 7 months old he was taken to Halloween 2 and Malcolm wondered if it would warp him. For his first birthday he got to see The Book of Eli also a Rated R film.
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