January 2, 2017


Malcolm McDowell (1943-) b. Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

Malcolm McDowell

Born Malcolm Taylor to working-class parents in 1943, Leeds, England. Malcolm McDowell changed his name at the age of 20 due to an existing actor having the same name. After leaving school McDowell worked in his father’s Liverpool pub and as a coffee salesman – an experience he would later call upon in O Lucky Man! (1973). He spent nearly two years in extra roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company that led to TV work and his first film, Ken Loach’s Poor Cow (1967). Before McDowell’s scene were cut from that film, it had attracted the attention of director Lindsay Anderson, who cast him as a rebellious schoolboy in the satire If… (1968). Director Stanley Kubrick was similarly impressed by McDowell’s ability to project working-class arrogance and cast him as the futuristic anti-authoritarian Alex who undergoes aversion therapy in the controversial adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange (1971). In 1973 he linked up with Lindsay Anderson once again to appear in another attack on corrupt British institutions, O Lucky Man! (1973).

Soon McDowell began to shed his earlier radical characterizations, appearing as Captain Harry Flashman in Richard Lester’s rollicking romp, Royal Flash (1975), and as the charming H.G. Wells in pursuit of Jack the Ripper in Time After Time (1979). McDowell also played the sex-obsessed lead in the Penthouse version of the life of one of Rome’s most decadent emperors, Caligula (1979). He appeared in the final instalment of Lindsay Anderson‘s satirical institution trilogy with Britannia Hospital (1982). Firmly ensconced in Los Angeles, McDowell’s later films were a mixture of poor choices, TV serials and sci-fi films including Star Trek: Generations (1994) and Tank Girl (1995). He enjoyed a revival of form with a magnificent portrayal of gangster’s descent into old-age and madness in Paul McGuigan’s violent Gangster No 1 (2000).

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