Malcom McDowell is in everything. I mean it. Check his IMDB. He’s in everything. One of those everythings he is in is a new film called A Green Story, which tells the true life tale of Van Vlahakis, who created Earth Friendly Products, one of the largest environmentally friendly cleaning product manufacturers around.
We got a chance to talk to him about the film, but the conversation quickly veered elsewhere as we chatted about his career, work and why he hasn’t been cast as a comic book villain yet (it’s not his fault). Read on to learn about his prolific career and when he plans on retiring.
Let’s start off by talking a bit about A Green Story.
I had just did one day on it and I did it because I think we should all be aware of our environment and be responsible. I love the story of this guy who came from Greece with nothing and made this incredible company that did these incredible things that were totally green. It made such a difference. I think making a movie is a great well to tell a fun story and it’s a very interesting journey that he has. I was happy to be a part of it.
This isn’t your only project at the time. In fact you seem to be in everything, always. How do you survive such a crowded working schedule?
As they say in AA, one day at a time. It’s no good looking too far ahead; you’ll freak out. I just learn what I have to learn, get that right and worry about the other stuff tomorrow.
It must be daunting taking on so much.
I don’t take everything I’m offered, but I do love what I do. It’s great to keep working. I wouldn’t do it unless I really loved it. Besides the fact that I have three small boys that I have to put through college. That’s the best incentive to work. Just ask any father.
Have you had to miss out on roles or performances? Any regrets?
There really isn’t anything I’ve missed. I’ll tell you why. I don’t think it’s worth having the emotion of resentment. If I was to hanker after a role that wasn’t offered to me that would be wasting my emotions. What it is it is. I’m very positive of the things that I am offered and I don’t worry about the things that I’m not.
You’ve voiced a lot of superhero characters in cartoons. Any chance of seeing you in an actual movie as a villain maybe?
I love those films. I wish you were producing one I’d say yes immediately. I love those films. Iron Man and the Marvel comic heroes are fantastic.
Which role would you like to take on?
In Batman there’s the Joker, but Jack did that rather well (Ed: Only person I’ve spoken with that brought up Jack Nicholson before Heath Ledger). That’s a great part to play.
There were rumors that your recent eye surgery actually had to do with that famous scene from A Clockwork Orange. Is that true?
If I could claim the eye surgery off of something that happened that long ago that would be a medical first. I’d be in every medical book in the history of medicine. Just a 40 year delay on the injury. It had nothing to do with it, but my eye, thank god, at the moment is fine.
Well, that makes my next question a little moot, but in light of the possible risk is there a line you wouldn’t cross for a role? A line you’d recommend other actors not cross.
I guess it’s up to the individual actor. I pretty much have done everything in my career. I tend to think if the writers come up with a scenario and it works for the character than it works with the character. Me as Malcom has nothing to do with that otherwise you’d never play a murderer. You know emotionally how could you as a person count on that. When you’re a character there are no limits or there should be no limits.
You do a lot of game acting as well and started pretty early before it was even a thing with Wing Commander. What got you into that?
I love it because it’s the kids that plays these games pretty much, although not always. I think everyone loves to play them now. The first one I did was called Wing Commander and it was so popular all over the world and I was amazed at the kids that became fans because of it. I always thought it was always good to give the youth something back and I’ve been very aware of that.
Are you working on a game now?
Yes I am. I’ll tell you what it’s called (pauses to think of the name) The Elder Scrolls: Online. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m starting it in July. It’s just fun. And with such great characters. I did the Presidnet in Killzone. That was very popular too. Then we did the on camera stuff and they shoot you with 360 cameras all over a cage with little dots on.
Is it hard to work in this day and age where you find yourself on a stage of nothing with dots all over you for many projects?
It’s the same. It’s technique, but you just bury yourself in it. You’re fine and you’re away.
For an actor with so much recognition and work I’m was surprised to see that you’d never directed. Do you want to?
I really don’t want to direct. I don’t want to stay for the same project for two years. I don’t have the concentration to do it or the patience.
Are there any movies you’re going to be in that you’re excited about?
I will be when we get the money to do Monster Butler. We’re still looking to do it and it’s a wonderful script. I’ll take it as it comes. I’m also just off to Russia to do a movie about the KGB from the Russian side where the KGB are the heroes not the CIA or MI6. It’s a Russian film.
Do you like doing international films?
I love doing them. I’m very happy that I get to travel a lot and work in exotic places. I’ll be in St. Petersburg and London.
Do you enjoy them more than your TV work in the states?
No I don’t love them more, but I’m very happy I have a European career side of my life. It’s nice to have that and it’s nice to be sort of over there as well as here. I do a lot of television here and people know me because of that here.
As someone who has been in the industry for a good amount of time how do you see movies and TV growing?
The think that changed the most is that cable television has set the bar so high. It’s not just that they look like movies they are beautifully written — you get great actors and great performances. Basically it’s the death of the independent movie because they’re all really on cable as TV series. The standard of TV in America now is second to none. It’s the best it’s ever been. It’s all because of cable. HBO started everything.
So will you be retiring any time?
No. Actors don’t retire. They just fade away.