Malcom Mcdowell, the star of A Clockwork Orange, the 1971 movie by Stanley Kubrick, to whom the Festival has paid tribute during this 64th edition with a restored print of the movie and a documentary, talked about his career and, not without humour, entertained a packed house with anecdotes about the master director. Extracts.
Malcolm McDowell started by speaking about how he prepares for a role:
"I like to give energy to my characters. I don't like two-dimensional characters. In general, I trust my instinct to give them depth. When I was younger, I used to learn scripts by heart so I wouldn't have to go over them again. Today, with age, it's a little harder! Now I like to work on scripts at the beginning and then forget them so as to be free to do what I want with them during shooting".
He went on to retrace the steps that brought him before the cameras:
"When I was 11, I was chosen by my school to play a role in a musical. When I got on stage, I was dazzled the lights - but I felt at home. After that I did some Shakespeare plays. I played all the great Shakespearean roles before I was 18. That was when I met this silent movie star who gave me lessons in elocution. She was a fascinating woman".
Malcolm McDowell described how his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick came about:
I went to his house and he asked me if I had heard of A Clockwork Orange. He told me, "I want to film that book". I confess that I had a hard time getting through the bloody thing! I had to read it three times before I finally understood what it was about. A week later, I asked him if he was going to give me the role. After a silence, he answered, "Yes".
The actor explained how he had prepared for the role of Alex in A Clockwork Orange:
"I went to see the director Lindsay Anderson, who I had already worked with, to get some advice. He told me, "You remember that scene in If... (1968) where you smile? Well, play the role like that". He gave me a picture. I kept it in mind all the time we were shooting".
Summing up, Malcom McDowell praised Kubrick's special talent for putting music to his movies:
"You could organise a seminar on the brilliant way Stanley Kubrick used music in his films. He was total master at it! In A Clockwork Orange, the scene where Alex makes love to two young girls is the clearest illustration of this talent. The scene lasts thirty minutes but Kubrick speeded it up during editing and set it to Rossini's "William Tell Overture"!"
Interview by B.P.