Malcolm McDowell, one of the hardest-working men in showbiz, turns 75 years old today, as the star of A Clockwork Orange, If..., O Lucky Man!, Time After Time, Blue Thunder, Halloween, Heroes, Entourage, Franklin & Bash and Mozart in the Jungle, was born on June 13, 1943, in Horsforth, Yorkshire, England. The venerable actor made one memorable visit to the Star Trek universe, playing Dr. Tolian Soran in Star Trek Generations. His role got him forever labeled as "The Man Who Killed Kirk," which the cheeky actor quite likes. To celebrate his big birthday, StarTrek.com offers up 6 Things to Know About Malcolm McDowell....
Trek Before Trek
Long before Generations, McDowell and Patrick Stewart met in 1965, during their time at the Royal Shakespeare Company. McDowell is fond of telling the story of how his first speaking part arose when he was across the street in a pub and they needed someone who knew the part of a king. He regaled those that came to get him by rattling off lines, but when he actually stepped on stage he got his first line horrendously wrong, so wrong that he saw the director and members of the crew turn around and start laughing. Stewart still teases McDowell about the incident to this day.
StarTrek.com talked to McDowell in 2011 about his life, career and Trek experience. Asked what interested him most about Soran, the actor replied, "Well, he’s a megalomaniac and a fun character to play. Also, visually, I loved the black clothes with the white hair, spiked up. I think that’s the first time I spiked my hair up like that. I had a wonderful hairdresser on that film and I can’t remember her name, but she changed the whole look for me. But she was great and I loved her. And Mike (Westmore), the makeup man, was brilliant. I did say, though, 'If I’m going to play this part, I don’t want a scar. I don’t want to look like a mutant. I’m not getting up at four in the morning to get in makeup.' They said, 'That’s OK, then. We didn’t want that.'"
Shatner and the Stones
McDowell likes to share a tale about his time working with William Shatner on Generations, one that involves no less than the Rolling Stones. StarTrek.com was there in 2014, when he told the following anecdote during a Q&A (moderated by Michael Dorn) that followed a Generations screening. According to McDowell, Generations was shooting near Las Vegas and, one night, Shatner invited him to see the Rolling Stones... with tickets producer Rick Berman had gotten them. “I thought, ‘Oh, finally, the producer is putting his hands in his pockets!’” McDowell recalled. McDowell anticipated an amazing event, only to realizes that the seats were terrible. He noted to Shatner, "Bill, this is not good for your reputation!” McDowell also described how, as they left, a group of Trek fans spotted them and raced to get on the elevator. Shatner, per McDowell, shoved his own party into the elevator and pushed and kicked at anyone else attempting to get in the elevator. This, McDowell joked, was his first taste of Trek fandom, and he then rose from his chair and reenacted Shatner’s moves, performing a Shatner-esque double-kick in the air.
If We're Talking Highlights...
Over the years, McDowell has amassed more than 200 credits. He's been in classics and duds, Hollywood films and indies and B-movies. Speaking to StarTrek.com in 2014, he replied as follows to several questions: His single best film? "If." His most underrated or under-appreciated film? "O Lucky Man!" he sais. "It was underrated at the time. And if you want me to give you a more recent one, I’ll say Evilenko." And, regardless of the quality of the film, his best filmmaking experience was? "Hmm…," he began. "Well, honestly, I always have a good experience making a movie. I always love it. But the very best… I’d have to say If and O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital with my dear friend Lindsay Anderson."
To this day, McDowell is referred to as "The Man Who Killed Kirk." He's fine with that, but less so with the sequence that earned him the nickname. "Pose this one for me (to the powers that be)," McDowell said to us in 2011. "If you have – which they had – this icon of American television, why the hell didn’t they give him a spectacular death? Why did they give him such a really paltry death? Me shooting the bridge out or some BS whatever it was? They should have sent him off in a glorious fashion, and they didn’t. They missed an opportunity." So, was McDowell referring to what ended up on screen in Generations, or the original version, in which Soran shot Kirk in the back? "Yeah, they re-shot," he said. "What did they reshoot? It was just as bad as the first one. And they spent several million dollars (on the reshoots). If you’re asking me, I thought it was poor, very poor, even the reshoot. They should have seen Shatner off in a big way."
McDowell likes to work and, no doubt, directors like to hire him. As prolific as ever, IMDB lists him in 18 shows and movies that are either completed or in pre-production for 2018-2019. The titles include Chicago Med, Star Wars: Rebels, Dreams I Never Had, The Unspoken and Vampires of Hollywood.