Malcolm McDowell is awesome. Primarily known for the iconic role of Alex DeLarge in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, he’s also appeared in over 300 films across his long and varied career. For me, he’s the epitome of the British actor who doesn’t attach a huge amount of ego to his work: just give him a paycheque and he’ll turn up and deliver the goods (see also Ben Kingsley).
Across the years, McDowell has appeared in everything from critical darlings like if…, The Artist and The Player, to fun B-movie trash like Cyborg 3: The Recycler, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Doomsday (I would highly recommend that last one if you want a really weird movie) and even 2007’s Halloween. And apparently, the moment he leaves the set and collects his cheque, he forgets all about them.
In an interview with The Guardian, McDowell discussed how he deals with this, saying:
“People stop me and say: ‘Oh, we loved you in blah-blah’ and I say: ‘Sorry, that wasn’t me.’ And then they’ll show me on their phone or show me the DVD cover and sure enough, there I am.” He chuckles. “And I have no memory of doing it at all.”
Now 77, he leads a happy life in a small town near LA and continues to enjoy his work.
“I still love it, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. Maybe in my forties, I didn’t have a good time. People didn’t know what to do with me. I was a useful rebel in the 60s and 70s. But the Kubrick movie was overbearing. Everything was measured against A Clockwork Orange, which gets a little old. But that’s what happens when you work with giants.”
But, reassuringly, it doesn’t seem like he’s ditching acting anytime soon, with the actor saying:
“If they offer me something, I’ll do it. But do I want to go parading around actively looking for work? No. Because I don’t have the ambition to be above the title, doing this, that and the other. I really don’t care. I’ve had an amazing run, an incredible career, when you take it all into account.”
Damn right he has. Whenever I’m tuning into some B-movie and spot McDowell’s name in the credits, I always know I’m in for a good time. You can check him out next in The Big Ugly, in which he plays a British gangster alongside Vinnie Jones and Ron Perlman. That’s out on VOD on July 24th.