Malcolm McDowell has iconic characters and movies on his expansive resume, but he doesn’t expect the younger co-stars he has now to know that.
“Oh, I think a couple of them do, but I never think about that,” the veteran British actor legendary as “ultraviolence”-loving Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 screen classic “A Clockwork Orange” tells Zap2it. “I always take them as I find them. And I usually tease them a lot.”
McDowell has been doing much television work lately, as he’ll show again in a return guest spot on CBS’ “The Mentalist” Sunday, Nov. 18, and also as the leader of house-invading thieves in ABC Family’s new tale “Home Alone: The Holiday Heist” Sunday, Nov. 25. He’ll be back as a regular on TNT’s “Franklin & Bash” when it starts Season 3 next year (“I’m really happy about that”), and he’s also done series stints on “Heroes,” “Entourage” and a reboot of “Fantasy Island.”
For all his home-screen jobs, though, he maintains clear and fond memories of the period that made him a star more than four decades ago. “Lindsay Anderson was such a great friend of mine and such an influence on me,” McDowell says of the director who cast him in “if … “ and “O Lucky Man!” “That is a very separate thing, I suppose the mainstay of me as a person and an actor. He was a prickly personality, but I got on with him very well, and his films are quite amazing.
“Stanley [Kubrick] was a genius in his own right, of course, but in a very different way. His intellect involved everything about advancing the art of film, pushing it technically, hence the extraordinary ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ that he made. He kind of took science fiction in a millennial jump, and people like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg came in because Stanley pioneered the way. I think they would agree with that.”
McDowell’s performance for Kubrick in “A Clockwork Orange” helped the actor earn a Lifetime Achievement Award last week from the nonprofit sCare Foundation, which assists impoverished and homeless teens. “Working with him was a great pleasure for me,” McDowell says of Kubrick. “I was just a young kid, so I took it for granted. But I guess you couldn’t.”
As for continuing an active career over so many years — with memorable roles in such other movies as “Time After Time,” “Blue Thunder,” “In Good Company” and the Oscar-winning “The Artist” — McDowell reasons, “It’s not something I reflect on. Honestly, you can only look ahead. You can’t really look behind you at what you’ve done, because you’d stop. I’m very proud of a lot of the work, though there have been some horrendous movies along the way.
“It’s like when people ask, ‘What’s your favorite part?’ And I always say, ‘The next one.’ You only do it because you love it, and in my 70th year, I still love it. I’m having a ball.”