Malcolm McDowell Q&A for ‘Star Trek: Generations’

Malcolm Mc Dowell

Last night marked the end of The Malcolm McDowell Series of Q&A Screenings with Star Trek Generations. The Alex Theatre and Glendale Arts Prospect House Entertainment honored the legendary actor by featuring three of his greatest films – A Clockwork Orange, Time After Time and Star Trek: Generations. The Q&A were followed by a screening of the film.

The Q&A was lead by Star Trek alum Michael Dorn. McDowell entered the room with lots of cheers for him. He entertained the crowd with his stories on the set and interactions with the cast.

Malcolm McDowell Star Trek Generations

When asked about an article that was published about McDowell stating the “90s was very good to Malcolm McDowell because in 1994, he starred in Star Trek: Generations and that was a pivotal point [in his career].”  McDowell laughed and joked, “That must had been written by a Trekkie.”

McDowell truthfully commented, “To be honest with you, I didn’t want anything to do with this. When my agent said, you heard of Star Trek? I said [groans] yes. I thought cardboard sets, Bill Shatner and Mr. Ears (Spock). I never really watched it. I wasn’t really into science fiction, but I didn’t get into it until I got into it. Then I enjoyed it. There is something to be said about Star Trek for its’ longevity and its legs in the pantheon of American culture. We’re all fascinated with things we do not know – space…  my agent said inquiring about the thing [Star Trek] and I said, ‘I’m not doing 5 hours of makeup every damn day!’…  I read the script and thought it was a wonderful part. And to work with old baldy again [Patrick Stewart].”

Dorn asked McDowell what pushed him to star in Star Trek, McDowell responded, “They came up with the money. We’re not a charity, are we? Just because it’s Star Trek… you know they use that to gouge poor actors and expect them to work for the brilliance of the franchise, like they’re not making gazillion off of it. So I turned it down four times, but eventually they paid the price.”

McDowell Malcolm Star Trek

He begins telling stories of working with Patrick Stewart and William Shatner. He spoke about the time on set when Shatner sat down next to him and asked him a question [for his book]. Shatner asked McDowell, “What was it like to kill an American TV icon?” McDowell commented, “I was thinking to myself, you got to be kidding me but I said, half of the people out there are going to hate me and the other half are going to LOVE me.”

McDowell asked Dorn if he ever got close to Shatner’s fans. Dorn commented he has and Shatner is really amazing still running around doing things. McDowell asked, “With that box? With the hairpiece in it?” McDowell kept joking about the hairpiece. Dorn talked about the Star Trek: Generations poster Two Captains. One Destiny. McDowell added, “And one hairpiece.”

He started talking about going to The Rolling Stones concert with Shatner. Shatner invited McDowell to watch The Rolling Stones paid by Star Trek producer Rick Berman. “Fantastic. Finally, the producer of this thing is putting his hand in his pocket. So, Bill and I and our respective wives arrive. The Rolling Stones were right here and we were [he points upward and gesturing far away] there. This theater is too small. It was in a convention center. We were almost outside. We were sitting there and thinking ‘Is this what we mean to them?’ I go, ‘Bill, this is not good for your reputation. Is that The Rolling Stones? I don’t even know that it is them. Can you hear anything?’ Get this, he was really pissed about that. So we come out of the thing, walked down the corridor and called for the elevator and suddenly, a whole gaggle of his fans spot him and come running down. He shove the girls in the elevator and as the fans came, he went like [McDowell stands up and starts kicking]. I went My God! James T Kirk! That’s the way you treat your fans? You kick them in the balls?’ No problem at all.”

He goes on to compliment Shatner on his acting “He’s a phenomenal actor. I always enjoyed his company. I always have a great laugh with him. Of course, you have to send him up somewhat. Can’t be too serious. Otherwise, it’s hilarious.” He proceeds to talk about being on set with Shatner reciting some sonnets from Shakespeare. And Patrick Stewart was on the phone with his agent complaining about his action figure – “He said he looked like a real sour puss because his mouth was down and he wanted it to go up.” He laughed he was between the two TV icons while they were doing that and at one point, “Stop! If only your fans could see you now!”

Malcolm McDowell Star Trek

He spoke about how Stewart used a story about him in his one man show. McDowell worked in the same company as him when they first started. “It was my first lines on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London… the English Herald in Henry V was off sick and the understudy [too]. I was in the pub taking a little drinky before the matinee and the stage manager came in perturb and asked ‘Does anyone know the English Herald?” McDowell started reciting it in full. He was asked to do it. “I said of course, I was born to play this. I never said a word in the Royal Shakespeare Company. In we go, nineteen, I’m going through it. Then suddenly I’m there – they put a royal cap on me, a staff, a royal flagpole and suddenly, there are all these trumpets. I’ve never heard these trumpets before. They shoved me on stage and I went on and shouted ‘My sovereign lord, bestow yourself with speed! The French – come on! come on! The French!’ It was the last line they gave me at Shakespeare.”

He mentioned Stewart went to visit him when he was doing a play called Hunting Cockroaches in 1987. He asked Stewart what he was up to, “He said, ‘Well, you know, I’m doing this science fiction thing.’ I said ‘Good God, which one?’… ‘Star Trek’ [I said] ‘Oh my God, that old hackney piece! No! Oh my God’ [Stewart responded] ‘Well, it’ll be a nice little pension’ That was a understatement. Good for him.”

McDowell Malcolm

During the Q&A, Shatner sent McDowell a letter for Dorn to read to him.

I first knew Malcolm from Clockwork Orange. Indeed, I was reminded of him at a recent eye examination when they rolled my eyelids up to do something or other. I thought Malcolm McDowell.

McDowell commented, “How sweet. At least he wasn’t getting his balls tested.”

Then I got to see his Elfin face when we did our movie together. It was then unlined and his hair was dark. Time passes. Things changed for both of us. His face gets lined and mine gets round. I spent some special moments with Malcolm and I consider him a true buddy, especially if he goes to a movie near him on April 24th to see the film of my one man show [Shatner’s World].

McDowell commented, “He’s always working!” McDowell grabs the paper and reads the rest, I love Malcolm. Tell him if he needs any publicity, I’ll work with him. With great love. How sweet. I’m going to frame this and hang it in my loo [toilet]. So when I’m taking a piss, I can think of him.”

Malcolm McDowell

McDowell commented about his futute projects – movies in the pipeline and a television show in the works. He talked about his previous movies, including Clockwork Orange. Director Stanley Kubrick gave him the book Clockwork Orange to read and after the second read, he knew it was a great story and great part. “I called him up, took about a week to return, and said ‘Stanley, I love this book.’ He goes ‘great, great’. I asked ‘why did you give this to me, do you want me to play the part?’ Long pause. You never say that to a director, apparently. Especially not Stanley Kubrick. Long pause. He goes, ‘yeah, yeah I do.’ YEAH! Great! So there you are. Stan the man.”

The Q&A ended and the screening of Star Trek: Generations played.

For more information on sessions like these and the Alex Theatre, click here.

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