Malcolm McDowell riffs (and rips) on ‘Trek,’ Kubrick, ‘Avengers’

June 07, 2012 | 1:06 p.m.


14 Malcolm McDowell riffs (and rips) on Trek, Kubrick, Avengers

“A Clockwork Orange” actor Malcolm McDowell at 2012 Hero Complex Film Festival. (Alan Heitz)

Malcolm McDowell was on a roll, riffing (and ripping) on “The Avengers,” “Star Trek,” Stanley Kubrick, Peter Sellers and Hollywood. Then he caught himself. “This is going to be on the bloody Internet isn’t it? I keep forgetting about this [expletive] Internet.”

Well, the Internet isn’t going to forget this interview anytime soon. The third episode of “Hero Complex: The Show” is a special “on-stage” edition with the firebrand actor from “A Clockwork Orange,” “Time After Time,” “Star Trek: Generations,” “If…”  and  “Caligula.”

McDowell, soon to be filming “Monster Butler” in Scotland, served up plenty of dish too, weighing in on “The Avengers” (“mindless crap”), Patrick Stewart in “Trek” films (might as well “watch paint dry”) and his perspective on killing Capt. James T. Kirk (“I did them a favor”). He also spoke at length about the legacy of “A Clockwork Orange” and the late Stanley Kubrick, whose death brought on a complicated bundle of emotions; during a visit to see Kubrick’s widow at the filmmaker’s stately home, McDowell burst into tears — but not before looking around and thinking, “Yeah, I paid for some of this.”

This third episode of “Hero Complex: The Show” is a change of pace for us — this one is  built around my interview with McDowell during the second day of our Hero Complex Film Festival. The interview preceded our screening of the Stanley Kubrick classic “A Clockwork Orange” and tapped into this year’s 50th anniversary of the Anthony Burgess novel. “Hero Complex: The Show” premiered with our visit to the offices of Ridley Scott, and then we dropped in on Leonard Nimoy for a chat in his home library (it was split into Part 1 and Part 2). Coming soon on the show: Acclaimed cartoonist and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Daniel Clowes.

— Geoff Boucher


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Nimoy: ‘Trek’ fans can be scary

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14 Responses to Malcolm McDowell riffs (and rips) on ‘Trek,’ Kubrick, ‘Avengers’

  1. John W. says:

    I agreed with everything he said about The Avengers, Patrick Stewart's acting, and his Kirk-killing role in Star Trek: Generations, but he lost me with his monumentally egotistical, "Yeah, I paid for some of this" when looking at Kubrick's much-deserved "stately home." However, one has to admire and appreciate his complicated and contradictory nature because because that sort of inner conflict shows in his onscreen performances and sets him apart from the likes of the paint-drying Patrick Stewarts out there.

  2. bigalosu says:

    Wait. Wasn't he on NBC's Heroes? The nerve on him to dump on the Avengers and Captain Picard, when he plays the same cranky old man villain role over and over in his career. He's a bit actor, not a star, and he's bitter about it because people like Shatner find a niche and receive greater fame.

    • John W. says:

      Boy, I thought my comment was a bit harsh. Bigalosu, maybe you should go to and review Mr. McDowell's career, then think again about your "bit actor" comment. And it's absolutely ridiculous that you're using Mr. Shatner's career as some sort of benchmark for… what? An example of how masterfully a 1960's TV actor can exploit the hell out a decades-old role and reinvent himself as the kooky-but-lovable old buffoon for one good show, a failed one, a never-ending commercial campaign, and hundreds upon hundreds of science fiction convention appearances? I love ol' Cap'n Kirk as much as the next nerd, but the esteemed Malcolm McDowell can act circles around him.

    • Ben says:

      It's amazing how people can go to such great lengths to dismiss someone so that they don't have to deal with their opinions. McDowell's career is a lot more varied and critically acclaimed than Shatner's and I'd venture to say that's pretty quantitative. He does get typecast, but not often enough to claim he's a "bit actor" that's crazy.
      People can make the argument that he's a dick, although I find that pretty defensive also (it still doesn't invalidate his opinions if he is a dick). However, I think it's totally ridiculous to try and "diagnose" his anger as stemming from jealousy and bitterness about how his career went. That's just stretching it. People will look for as many reasons as possible to totally discredit someone in their mind so that they can believe their opinions are completely without any reasonable basis.

  3. JJCox says:

    no respect for this guy anymore…had some great roles written and directed by other people, gives no credit to others for those iconic roles and bashes things he had nothing to do with. wow, what a douche.

  4. joesappy says:

    Wait. Weren't you on NBC's 'I'm an Idiot'? Bit actor? McDowell is a film legend & Shatner is a clever TV actor who sang "Mr. Tamborine Man'. Yeah, Shatner is much more well known in America. So is Snooki.

  5. Moonlightsonata1 says:

    I felt good, when he said"I busted in tears" I thought he had attitude problem.

  6. Kyle says:

    I suppose in Mr. McDowell’s twisted mind a movie about the old “in and out” (rape and pilage) or “singing in the rain” (indiscriminate violence) is more mindful than The Avengers. I’m a Kunbrick fan, but Clockwork is only *mindless*.

    • John W. says:

      Apparently there is no age restrictions to post here. You must be, what, about twelve? Obviously, A Clockwork Orange is way too sophisticated for the likes of you, especially if you think The Avengers is anything more than a very expensive, live-action cartoon.

      • ShpotaSb says:

        Avengers is not based on a cartoon, and its far more than that, it has a 94% score on rotten tomatoes, its proved to be an amazing movie.

      • John W. says:

        I didn't say it BASED on a cartoon, I said it WAS a cartoon. It is based on a comic book, which is essentially a non-animated cartoon. Or did I miss the all the news stories about the mutant, super hero humans, alien demi-gods, and billionaire tech giants who battled aliens from other worlds who were trying to take over earth? Forgive me; my attention must have been on Syria and the Middle East as well as our own troubled economy. It's a live-action cartoon. A terrific cartoon… but still just a cartoon. And a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes is not the be-all and end-all of what makes a "great movie." A popular one, yes, a great one? Not necessarily.

  7. Dan says:

    Well the man was in Caligula so he obviously has taste. Because of his extremely detailed and explanatory ideals I shall being basing my future movies choices on his opinions.

  8. L Owen says:

    I have only seen Shatner and Stewart on stage; Shatner in a Stratford production of Julius Caesar and Stewart in Macbeth and Waiting for Godot. I was young when I saw Shatner and it was before Star Trek, I believe. I have taught Caesar many times, and it is Shatner's monologue as Caesar that I come back to (I am constant as the Northern star). Stewart's Macbeth was genius, as was his Claudius; he and McKellen were unbelievable in Godot. I remember McDowell in Caligula and in Clockwork Orange. But to say he is the better actor than Stewart? No. Stewart's cred as a real actor is much greater than McDowell's, that's for sure. And it's easy to make fun of Shatner, I suppose, but his Caesar is one I won't forget, and I've seen many.

  9. M.C. says:

    Wow, does anyone get the fact that Mr. McDowell is playing the old crank to a tee. Most of what he said had his tongue firmly implanted in cheek AND if you listen carefully he's equally praising and damning in the same breath. (Avengers was crap but we all like that, it was good fun, I built some of this. but I WOULD think that wouldn't I?) Yeah the dig on Patrick Stewart got me right in the Trekkie but everyone, especially someone as seasoned as McDowell has the right to be a bit of an ass sometimes. Add him to the short list of actors who I would love to go drinking with, the man is one of a kind.

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