MALCOLM MCDOWELL is arguably among the most dynamic and inventive of world-class actors, yet also one capable of immense charm, humor and poignancy. McDowell has created a gallery of iconic characters since catapulting to the screen as Mick Travis, the rebellious upperclassman in Lindsay Anderson’s prize-winning sensation, If…
His place in movie history was subsequently secured when Stanley Kubrick finally found the actor he was searching for to play the gleefully amoral Alex in A Clockwork Orange; when McDowell himself conceived the idea for Mick Travis’ further adventures in Anderson’s Candid-like masterpiece, O Lucky Man!; and when he wooed Mary Steenburgen and defeated Jack the Ripper as the romantically inquisitive H.G. Wells in, Time After Time.
Those legendary roles are among the ones that have endured with legions of filmgoers while new fans have been won over by his tyrannical Soran (the destroyer of Capt. Kirk) in Star Trek: Generations; his Machiavellian Mr. Roarke in “Fantasy Island” and his comically pompous professor Steve Pynchon in the critically hailed CBS television series, “Pearl,” starring opposite Rhea Perlman.
For his motion picture work, the American Cinemateque honored him with a retrospective in June 2001, highlighted by showings of his electrifying performances in two major works. The first is Paul McGuigan’s Gangster No. 1, in which McDowell and Paul Bettany portray the consumed, driven title character and which affords McDowell the chance to create a character both on screen and through nuanced voice-over. The second is Russian director Karen Chakhnazarov’s acclaimed and rarely seen Assassin of the Tsar, which Vincent Canby called “a remarkable mystical and psychological exploration of the murder of the Romanov family.” About McDowell’s performance as the conflicted Yurovsky, the man who carried out the crime, The New York Times said, “Not since reaching his mature years has McDowell given such a fine, strong, crafty performance. It is acted with immense skill.” In 2012, Malcolm was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
McDowell’s distinctive motion picture characterizations include: Richard Lester’s Royal Flash, Paul Schrader’s Cat People, Rachel Talalay’s Tank Girl, Joseph Losey’s Figures in a Landscape, Bryan Forbes’ The Raging Moon and the Chaplinesque studio boss in Blake Edwards’ Sunset.
His film credits are further highlighted by his compellingly sinister Caligula; the brilliant literary editor Maxwell Perkins in Martin Ritt’s Cross Creek; his cameo in Robert Altman’s The Player; and his final incarnation of Mick Travis in Britannia Hospital, the third film in Anderson’s trilogy marking the disintegration of British culture.
Other film work includes Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, In Good Company, I Spy, Robert Altman’s The Company; Robert Downey Sr.’s Hugo Pool with Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr. and Cathy Moriarty; Just Visiting, Mr. Magoo, Hugh Hudson’s My Life So Far, Blue Thunder, Neil Marshall’s Doomsday in 2007, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II, and the voice of villain, Dr. Calico, in Disney’s 2008 box office hit, Bolt.
In late 2011, Malcolm was seen in the Academy Award winning silent film sensation, The Artist. In 2012, Amy Heckerling’s Vamps with Sigourney Weaver and Alicia Silverstone followed, as did Silent Hill Revelation: 3D, and alongside Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek in the film, Some Kind of Beautiful.
On television, McDowell continued his recurring appearances as Terence on the hit HBO series, “Entourage” until the show ended, Also as Linderman on NBC’s “Heroes,” Darren Vogel on “CSI: Miami,” and his long stint as Bret Stiles on the hit show “The Mentalist.” He also popped up in NBC’s “Community” as Professor Cornwallis giving the Greendale gang a new foe in their 4th season. In summer of 2011, Malcolm starred in his own show, TNT’s, “Franklin & Bash,” as Stanton Infeld. “Franklin & Bash’s” debut success and high ratings resulted in four successful seasons. In December of 2014, Malcolm was seen again as a series regular on Amazon’s hit show, Mozart in the Jungle. McDowell played Thomas, a seasoned conductor being forced into retirement by the arrival of hot shot new conductor Rodrigo, played by Gael Garcia Bernal. The shows success won it two Golden Globes, for Best Actor in a Comedy Series (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Best Comedy Series. The show ended in 2018 after four fantastic seasons. In 2019 McDowell was cast again as a series regular in the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost penned show, Truth Seekers. The show debuted on Amazon in October 2020.