Malcolm McDowell

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Malcolm McDowell (born 13 June 1943) is an English actor.

Quotes[edit]

  • People think of him [Caligula] as a revolutionary or a figure of fun or a madman. There are so many aspects to him that we know really little about him, just the information that was given to us through a historian, a Roman historian called Suetonius, and he was from the other side of the family, so Suetonius paints Caligula as a very wicked madman, and that's the only reason that Suetonius considers why he did so many, on the face of it, crazy things. My interpretation of the character is not quite like that.
    • As quoted in A Documentary on the Making of Gore Vidal's Caligula [documentary] (1981), Cinemedia West Corporation
  • The Roman Empire, like any other empire, was made up purely of bureaucrats, the army, the priests and everything else, and he systematically goes from one institution to the other, trying to provoke them and trying to get an action out of them, and this is why in our view the misconception is that Caligula was completely mad... Anyway, he tries to destroy the institutions. Of course, naturally, he never fails. I mean, he does fail, simply because it's impossible to destroy a bureaucracy, and I think that is a very relevant point for modern-day audiences.
    • As quoted in A Documentary on the Making of Gore Vidal's Caligula [documentary] (1981), Cinemedia West Corporation
  • I do recall one particular night shoot… We were called to the set at four o'clock in the afternoon. As usual, nothing was ready. They'd built a set of Tiberius's grotto, on three acres, and were assembling all of the extras and background. The producers worriedly asked if I would go into Peter's trailer (he was playing Tiberius) and go through the lines with him, which we did few times.
    And then he told me the most remarkable story – whether it is true or not I have no idea – about his grave-robbing Etruscan tombs. He said the best way to find Etruscan jewellery and artefacts was to find the drains in the tombs, and very gingerly sift through them with your fingers because, as the bodies decompose, all of the artifacts deposit themselves into the channels. The thought of Peter O'Toole on his hands and knees in an Etruscan catacomb makes for a lovely image.
    We spent hours and hours in this trailer. He was smoking … it certainly wasn't tobacco. By the time we got onto the set, 12 hours had passed. We couldn't believe our eyes: the set was covered with people engaging in every sexual perversion in the book. We were totally bemused.
    Peter would start off his speech, "Rome was but a city..." then pause, look around, and say to me: "Are they doing the Irish jig over there?" I'd look over and there would be two dwarves and an amputee dancing around some girls splayed out on a giant dildo. This went on quite a few times.

Quotes about McDowell[edit]

  • He's a fine actor but a shallow person... Cheap is a better word... stingy! Stingier than anyone I have ever known. In my not inconsiderable experience with people, Malcolm McDowell holds the all-time record. I don't think he ever paid for a cup of coffee. At one point he took a bunch of people out to dinner to celebrate an Anglo-ltalian football match that England had won. He took them to the most expensive place in town, ordered champagne, and made a big show of being the generous host. In the end he stuck the choreographer with the check, saying that he had forgotten to bring enough cash. Several weeks later the choreographer, a relatively poor and modest man, came to us and asked if we could repay the money Malcolm owed him. He said that Malcolm told him to collect the debt from the production because he had taken the Pets as well and they were part of Penthouse. He did that on more than one occasion, but in blatant and obvious ways that would have mortified anyone else. At the end of the production, according to industry tradition, he gave his dresser - an elderly woman who used to bathe and dress him even day - a cheap, second-hand silver pendant with her name misspelled. It couldn't have cost five dollars, and when she pointed out the mistake and gave it back to him, he accepted it cheerfully. He then offered her his signet ring from the film. A worthless prop which she again graciously refused, saying that she couldn't accept it, as it belonged to the company. "Never mind," he said, "you keep it; I'll take care of the company." The poor woman was speechless. In all the years she had dressed stars like Robert Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Bob Mitchum, et cetera, et cetera, she had never seen anything to equal either his cheapness or the direct and unblushing way he carried it off.
    • Bob Guccione, as quoted in "Bob Guccione Caligula Interview from Penthouse May 1980". Penthouse: 112–118, 146–115.

External links[edit]

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