O Lucky Malcolm! (2006) Movie Script

Acting's a very mysterious business.
Why people become actors
is also mysterious. It's very private.
What do you take me for?
Malcolm is more on camera.
We're obviously killing much
more efficiently, but we're still killing.
No one ever, ever, found him boring.
How many did I get right?
Of course, my dad told me to watch
A Clockwork Orange when I was, like, 10.
He said, "Look at me in Clockwork Orange,
Bees, I was a lunatic."
It was surreal.
He's rude to me, really.
Thompson, you can keep
your bloody advice.
He sometimes likes to think
he knows more than the director. Which--
They forced me to do it.
I'm innocent!
And also, he's fun to be around.
Because he gets bored very quickly
and always likes to improvise.
He doesn't like the pond to be still.
I don't believe you exist.
I never get sick of hearing stories that
he tells because they're just so funny and--
What job and how much?
It's interesting being a hesitant personality
married to Mr. Bombastic.
You know, he comes in and takes over,
any room, every room, everywhere.
I don't know what Malcolm would've done
if he hadn't been an actor, I really don't.
That night...
...I was at home with my family.
Well, you know,
he's a huge personality, Malcolm.
So I always thought
if all else in my life failed...
...I could always become an actor.
What exactly is the treatment here
going to be, then?
I was born in Horsforth, in Leeds,
Yorkshire, in England.
And I was quite rebellious and stuff.
Of course, I nearly got expelled
on numerous occasions.
I think I was quite a naughty boy
because as far as I was concerned...
...you know, that it was very difficult
to get the attention of my parents...
...because they were always working
in this damned hotel.
In a pub or a hotel.
So that I suppose I was looking
and yearning for attention.
So I suppose that's why
I became an actor.
So I wrote to
the Royal Shakespeare Company...
...and I got an audition to go
and work there.
So of course I was moving furniture,
you know.
Except for one line, I did get a line,
which I managed to f up royally.
I was in the Opera Tavern,
we were at the Aldwych.
My first season
was at the Aldwych in London.
And the English Herald was off...
...in the production of Henry V.
The ASM for the production
came into the pub...
...and we were all, of course,
you know, the walk-ons.
We're all lounging around
drinking lagers...
...and said, "Anybody know
the English Herald?"
I went, "I know it." She goes,
"What is it?" And I went:
My sovereign lord,
bestow yourself with speed:
The French are bravely
in their battles set...
...and will with all expedience
charge on us.
She went, "Wow, you're playing it."
I went, "Great."
...we go there, and I'm, of course, moving
all the carts and this, that, and the other.
And I'm listening
and I'm going to myself....
Right. Off, change, quick.
Take off the thing.
Push the cart off,
put the royal tabard on, grab the standard.
And suddenly I hear these trumpets.
"What the hell are those trumpets?
I never heard the--"
And the green light's flashing
and I'm going, "Where--
Somebody pushes me on,
I go on and say:
My sovereign lord, bestow yourself
with speed: The French...
...come on, come on, they're waiting!
The whole of the Agincourt army
turned around...
...with their backs to the audience
and went:
It took me years to get over that.
That was the sort of end of my career
at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
I then got an audition
for Lindsay Anderson.
I honestly didn't know who
the hell he was. And so I go along.
I was late for the audition
because I was doing a play...
...rehearsing a play about to open,
in a modern-day version of Twelfth Night...
...at the Royal Court.
I was playing one of the worst parts
that Shakespeare ever wrote...
...if indeed he did write it,
called Sebastian.
Horrible part, but, anyway,
I was thrilled to be doing it.
And I go along, up on the stage
jumps this extraordinary man...
...who was to change my life.
Because I met, well,
not only I suppose, my mentor...
...but one of the-- Probably
the greatest post-war British director...
...and the most influential,
who was also an extraordinary friend.
And spoke to him
almost every other day...
...until the day he died,
28 years later.
My first impression of this man
when he jumped up on the stage...
...where I was
supposed to be auditioning...
...was a man who--
He looked like a Roman senator.
Sort of very hooked nose, a fringed
grey haircut, a little overweight...
...short, piercing eyes...
...and he says to me, "Hello, I'm Lindsay
Anderson and what are you doing?"
And I told him, and he went
"Oh, sounds terrible."
I said, "It is terrible, actually."
And we started to gossip about
how awful the Royal Court was...
...and how dreadful this production was
of Twelfth Night...
...and what a stupid idea
to do it in modern dress...
...and, you know, costumes by Mr. Fish.
And then there was a sort of
impasse, a little pause.
And he said, "You do realize, Malcolm, of
course, I am a director of the Royal Court."
I went, "Oh, well, I suppose
I'm not going to get this job then, am I?"
He said, "Not necessarily."
"Where's your script?"
I went, "I don't have a script."
He goes, "What?
You don't have a script?
Why doesn't he have a script?
Give him a script."
And, you know, so the writer gave me
his script and I started to read it...
...and so we started the scene
with this beautiful girl...
...and she sort of had black eyes. Her name
was Christine Noonan, I found out later.
And she knew her part because
she'd got the script, I hadn't.
Mine just said, "Mick grabs hold of girl,
kisses her passionately on the lips."
I kissed her so hard. I know because our
teeth banged and she got a little cut lip.
I didn't read the next line which said:
"Girl slaps Mick across the face."
And-- But she didn't slap me.
She punched me.
She punched me so hard...
...that I ended up flat on my back
on the stage.
You know, I like to think
that Christine Noonan...
...slapped me into film stardom.
And I thought, "I can't do it
any better than that."
I mean, it was heaven-sent,
that punch.
I've never been so excited, ever, ever.
Before or since. That, I knew, was
the opening of another path of my life...
...and so many times it was me
and the other fellow.
And the other fellow always got it.
I think maybe eight or 10 films
I was always the backup.
I was always the one that didn't get it.
I was obviously being saved
for the great one...
...because that was
a watershed film in British film.
It caused a revolution, really, in film.
Violence and revolution
are the only pure acts.
And when If.... became a big sort of hit,
it was an enormous hit...
...and my God, it changed my life,
you know, overnight...
...from being, like, "Who are you?
Get out of here."
To, "Oh, wow, we got a table
right here in the window." You know.
It's like, "For me? I didn't even call."
"Get out of there. He's sitting here.
Get out of there."
He'd belittle me, then build me up and
knock me down and that was just his way.
And I just pulled his leg a bit
and teased him and I adored him.
He'd say, "Right, Malcolm, name
three films that Jean Arthur was in."
And I go, "Trick question."
I go, "All right, Lindsay,
I know who he was."
He went, "Absolute nonsense.
He was a she."
I went, "Oh, yeah, okay."
He goes, "Look, if you're going
to be in the film industry...
...you'd better learn something about it."
And so, you know, he was really wonderful
because if ever there became...
...a John Ford film that played at the
National Film Theatre, he'd always take me.
Kurosawa, he introduced me to
Howard Hawks...
...to a great documentarist
called Humphrey Jennings...
...who was one of the biggest influences
on Lindsay's style.
So I really did get to learn, you know,
wonderful things through him.
So that when Stanley Kubrick called,
I was ready.
And that's a big thing, you know,
to be ready.
I was absolutely ready for him.
I met Stanley because he'd seen If....
Well, he told me he'd seen it five times.
I don't know whether it's true or not.
When Stanley saw Malcolm in If....
...he said, "There's Alex,"
and was really happy.
He couldn't believe his luck.
And suddenly it took off.
That had been the missing link.
I remember the shot was when
he looks in the mirror and makes faces...
...in the very beginning of the film,
I believe, in school.
And Stanley kept rerunning
that scene saying:
"That's what he looks like.
We've got him."
I went to see him, you know,
we had a very pleasant chat...
...and, you know, we talked for
45 minutes or an hour, small talk.
In the end I said, "Was there anything
particular that you wanted from me?"
And he said, "Well, there is a book
that I'm thinking of making into a film."
And I said, "Oh, what is it?"
And he goes, "Well, you know,
I'd really rather not say."
I said, "Oh, I see.
Well, am I going to read it, or not?"
He said, "Oh, well, have you ever
heard of A Clockwork Orange?"
I said no.
He said, "Well, read it, and call me."
So, wow. You know, I thought, wow.
And I saw the cover
and it was sort of weird.
I soon found out, of course, through
friends, that this was a real cult book...
...and that the Rolling Stones
had owned it at one point...
...Mick Jagger was going
to play Alex, and, you know...
...the rest of the Stones the droogs.
Anyway, I read it first, and if you've ever
read the book, it's quite difficult to read...
...because of this language, the Nadsat,
unless you're Russian...
...with a bit of Yiddish thrown in.
So I was forever turning
back to the glossary at the back...
...you know, and trying to figure out
what the hell it was.
So the first time it was a bit disjointed.
The second time I read it, I thought:
"Wow, this is quite a great book."
And the third time I read it...
...I thought, "Wow, what a great part."
So, of course, I called him up and I said,
"I've read it. It's incredible, Stanley."
He said, "Oh, good."
He was very happy, of course.
And because I was so naive about this,
you know-- And I was absolutely naive...
...and if I'd known who Stanley was,
really himself personally...
...I would never have said this,
but I said, "Are you offering me the part?"
Which, you never say that to a director,
of course.
There was a long pause
and he said, "Yes."
And I said, "Well, I'd like you to come
to my house and I'd like to talk to you."
- You said that?
- Yes.
Instead of, like, talking to him at his place?
Well, I'd already been to his place,
you see.
He did come. You know, he came in
and he goes, "Wow, I like this place.
Maybe we could shoot the Catlady here."
And I went, "Oh, I don't think so, Stanley.
I live here."
I know what film crews do to houses,
you know.
He did come to this house a lot because
he'd cast the Droogs from this house.
So we'd have these actors showing up
and we'd do the scene endlessly.
I said, "You know, Stanley, the one actor
who could play this is Warren Clarke."
And he was brilliant in it, actually.
Big, big money.
And what will you do
with the big, big, big money?
Have you not everything you need?
If you need a motorcar,
you pluck it from the trees.
If you need pretty polly, you take it.
Brother, you think and talk
sometimes like a little child.
A little child, yeah.
Tonight we pull a man-size crast.
Tonight's a man-size crast.
- Good! Real horrorshow!
- Yeah.
Initiative comes to thems that wait.
I've taught you much,
my little droogies.
When I work with Stanley,
you know, I'd say--
I remember saying this to Stanley:
"Stanley, could you, you know, give me
any pointers at all about this character?"
He looked at me and he went,
"Gee, Malc, I'm not RADA."
Well, in a weird way, Stanley...
...by saying that, really sort of
freed me up because anything was on.
Punishment means nothing to them.
You can see that.
They enjoy their
so-called punishment.
- You're absolutely right, sir.
- Shut your bleeding hole!
Who said that?
I did, sir.
What crime did you commit?
The accidental killing
of a person, sir.
He brutally murdered a woman
in furtherance of theft.
Fourteen years, sir.
He's enterprising...
...aggressive, outgoing...
...young, bold...
- He'll do.
- Well, fine.
We could still look at C-block.
No, no, no. That's enough.
He's perfect.
I want his records sent to me.
This vicious young hoodlum...
...will be transformed
out of all recognition.
Thank you very much
for this chance, sir.
Let's hope you make
the most of it, my boy.
- Shall we go to my office?
- Thank you.
The thing about Stanley is
that he didn't know what he wanted.
But he knew what he didn't want.
And he'd just go on
until something happened.
You know, the "Singin' in the Rain"
sequence, which is a great sequence...
...and it's an extraordinary thing...
...but, you know, we were sitting around
on this set, you know...
...and nothing was happening, and,
I don't know, the fifth or sixth day...
...he comes up to me and says:
"Can you dance?"
That's all he said.
And I went, "Can I dance?" Whump!
And Stanley, he was, like, "Oh, my God,"
because I just ad-libbed the whole thing...
...beating the thing
and doing the rape, the whole thing.
And he just went,
"Malcolm, get in the car."
And he drove on back to Abbots Mead--
He bought the rights
for Singin' in the Rain.
And I believe it was $10,000
for 30 seconds. I could be wrong.
But that's what I have in my mind.
He bought the rights there and then.
We went back and started to rehearse it.
And it became, really, the linchpin.
And also, Stanley, of course, used it.
He was brilliant because he uses that...
...as the way that the writer
recognizes Alex.
As Pat Magee said:
"Do you think I'm doing too much, Malcolm?
Because, God almighty...
...he keeps telling me to do more and more.
I mean, f hell.
I feel like I'm taking a big shit."
I said, "No, Pat, listen.
He knows what he wants.
I mean, he-- It's gonna be great."
So he said, "Well, can you get him to get...
...some f Guinness on the set?
Because, Jesus.
I mean, you know, this tea.
Christ, you English."
When I was younger...
...I had sort of heard about this film,
A Clockwork Orange, but I--
My dad had said, you know,
"I don't want you seeing this film...
...until you're much older and...."
I didn't really know why
he was saying that...
...but I could kind of gather
little bits of information.
As a kid, you kind of piece things together
and you're-- You know, I kept thinking:
"What is this film? What could it be
about?" It kind of, like, scared me.
Of course, my dad told me
to watch Clockwork Orange...
...when I was, like, 10.
And I was like,
"Dad, everyone's telling me not to."
My mom's like,
"No. You cannot watch it."
And I was 10 years old and I was like,
"I have heard this is not appropriate."
And he was like, "No, it doesn't matter.
You've seen it all."
I remember we'd be on the street,
walking down Main Street, in Santa Monica...
...and all of his fans that would come up
to him were a little bit....
Little bit off. Little bit crazy.
I'm thinking, "Who--? What is this movie?
Why are there all these strange people?"
People with tattoos...
...you know, coming up and ripping
their shirt off...
...and there's a huge tattoo of my father.
It's just--
It kind of shaped my view of it in this--
As a kid, it kind of made me think:
Oh, I-- You know, this movie
just has some weird effect on people.
And so I didn't wanna see it
until much later.
I think probably that had
a lot to do with it.
So finally I was 15, I remember.
I was like, "You know what?
I'm gonna watch A Clockwork Orange."
And I started watching...
...and it was surreal.
The film was surreal...
...the fact that this was my dad.
I didn't believe it.
His performance was just beyond
anything I could comprehend.
And that was the fir-- That was
the real time where I understood...
...you know,
what you could do with film.
He was a menace.
We put him away
for his own protection.
And also for yours.
Where is he now, sir?
We put him away
where he can do you no harm.
You see, we are looking
after your interests.
We are interested in you.
And when you leave, you'll have no
worries. We'll see to everything.
A good job on a good salary.
What job and how much?
You must have an interesting job at
a salary you'd regard as adequate.
Not only for the job
you're going to do...
...and in compensation for what
you believe you have suffered...
...but also because
you are helping us.
Helping you, sir?
We always help our friends,
don't we?
It was shown three or four years ago
at The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles.
And a new print. And it was the first time
I'd seen it in 20-odd years.
And I watched it
in wonderment at Stanley's brilliance.
Anyway, so there's a same sort of
crowd that are here.
Four hundred people and they all
dispersed. And I saw this young fellow...
...who was walking towards me and he--
As he passed me, he stopped and he went:
"A Clockwork Orange, right?"
I'm going, "Jesus." You know,
"Yeah, yeah." He goes, "Which part?"
I went, "Well, you know, the guy.
The guy in it."
He goes, "The old guy?"
But actually, it was a real testament
to the film and how amazing it is.
And it's still as--
I wouldn't say it's as fresh as it was then
because it's changed so much...
...and the perception of everything
changes so much...
...so that when it was first shown
in New York, for instance...
...and I saw it in New York...
...now I made, as far as I was concerned,
this incredible sort of black comedy.
The way that the audience then received
the film was one of shock and horror.
Was they-- You know, people were
running out to throw up in the lobby.
And now, when I see it now
with an audience...
...they are picking up the humor,
they laugh at the, you know--
Where, you know,
where we thought it was funny--
You never quite know, of course.
But they'd pick up every nuance.
They'd get it. They're ahead of you.
So that's the difference.
Now it's the film that I thought I made...
...and then it was, you know,
the whole hoopla and the--
You know, the press and the violence
and, you know--
The guy shot Wallace
because he'd seen me in the thing.
He's shooting Wallace as he was singing
in the rain or something. I don't know.
But, I mean, is that my responsibility?
I'm the actor, you know, I'm--
What has this got to do with me?
I take no responsibility for that.
A few months after...
...Clockwork came out in England...
...the acceleration of him...
...suddenly being at the bottom
of every crime ever committed...
...hit the headlines.
And it was alarming.
My role was to be--
I should say,
Stanley was a great worrier.
And so my role was to be calm
because he did all the worrying for me.
And in this case,
when I saw two of the letters...
...that were life-threatening,
you know, threatening to murder us all--
Children, wife and Stanley, uppermost.
--I must have frowned...
...or a sharp intake of air, possibly.
And Stanley then, you know--
The police had this piece of paper...
...and said,
"You have to do something about it.
We have to guard you or, you know,
something has to happen."
And that's when Stanley made
the phone call to Warner Bros...
...and said, "Help."
Warners was incredibly nice,
and said, "Yes, of course. We'll pull it."
And John Ford had that too.
You know, I mean, there's a famous--
A very famous scene with...
...I think it was Selznick,
came on the set and said to John Ford:
"You know, you're a week behind, John.
You know...
...what's going on? You're a week behind."
And he went, "Give me the script."
And he goes:
"Now we're on schedule."
No, it wasn't that heavy.
I mean, what an extraordinary question.
Is that--?
You've sat here for two hours...
...and that's been the sum of it?
"Was the dildo heavy?"
Well, it didn't have any straps.
Put it that way.
This is what Stanley Kubrick said
about Malcolm in his very first interview...
...about Clockwork Orange,
three weeks before the film opened.
It was with Penelope Houston,
the distinguished editor of Sight & Sound:
"I had Malcolm McDowell in mind
right from the third or fourth chapter...
...of my first reading of the book.
One doesn't find actors of his genius
in all shapes, sizes and ages.
Nor does an actor find
many characters like Alex...
...who was certainly one of the most
surprising and enjoyable...
...inventions of fiction.
It's not easy to say
how this is achieved...
...but it certainly has something to do
with his candor and wit and intelligence."
I think that sums up Malcolm.
Malcolm's candor, his wit and intelligence
is what he brings to the table...
...whether you're a great friend of his
or a fan asking for an autograph.
And then I went
back to Lindsay Anderson...
...to make a film called O Lucky Man!...
...which was based on my experiences
as a coffee salesman.
And we won the Grand Prix
at Cannes with If....
And I remember walking down
the Croisette with Lindsay and saying--
You know, putting my arm round him,
which irritated him anyway...
...but I did it just to irritate him, like,
"Two of a Kind."
And I said, "Linds, you know,
we're a very good team.
What's gonna be our next film?
We've gotta make another film together."
And he stopped. The eyes rolled.
And he said:
"Malcolm, where do you think
good scripts come from?
Do you think they fall from the trees?"
He goes:
"If you want to work with me again
then you better write a good script."
And he just walked off. And I went,
"Well, f you.
I will do. I'm gonna write one!"
Wow, so that was really tough, writing.
I mean--
So I started writing my experiences.
And I took-- I had 40 pages.
I took them out and it was...
...like pulling teeth. But I'd try
to get the humor and the thing.
I thought it was quite good, you know.
I took it over to him and he was lying there
reading it, glasses down, going:
"Is this supposed to be a comedy?"
I said, "Yes. Just read the damn thing."
Okay, so he's reading away. Reading away.
He finishes and he went:
"Well, Malcolm, it's not very good, is it?"
And I said, "Yes, it is good, and you
know what, Lindsay? It's your next film."
He said, "Oh, is it?
Well, then you'd better call David Sherwin."
Now, David Sherwin
was the writer of If....
So we started meeting in pubs
and coffee bars, writing the scenes.
So what we'd do was we'd write a scene,
and then go to Lindsay...
...and give him the scene.
He wouldn't listen to anything.
Everything was terrible, it was rubbish.
"Are you-- You call yourselves
Good Lord, this is pathetic. I'm not--
That's nonsense.
It's got to be construction, construction,
construction of the script.
The way, the way it moves.
The construction.
The dialogue and the--
That's easy, that's easy to do."
And of course, it is, you know.
Anyway, I'm sitting there--
We're in a pub...
...and I said to Dave, "You know, the
title of this thing is just depressing to me."
And it's mini--
You know, Lindsay's favorite term was,
"It's mini. I want epic. I want epic.
Not Lawrence of Arabia -epic, Malcolm.
Don't be so stupid.
I want epic in terms of it's gotta be about
the world, it will never date, it's classic."
I'm like, "Oh, okay.
Oh, okay, I get it. Okay."
So I'm there with Dave and I said, "Look--"
You know, it was called The Coffee Man.
I went, "This is, I'm afraid, David, to use
one of Lindsay's favorite terms, mini.
What is this film about?"
He went, "Oh, I don't know.
Well, it's about success and naivety...
...luck and--"
I went, "Luck. Luck! It's luck!
It's Lucky Man, not Coffee Man."
Lucky Man!
I was so excited, I called Lindsay.
I said, "We're coming over.
We have the title of your film." He says:
Click. He said, "Look, I'm expec--"
I said, "We'll be out of here any minute.
Sit down," and--
I said, "Listen, I'm going to whisper
the name of your next film...
...in your ear.
The title.
I want you to let it permeate right through
every nerve and being in your body."
He looks at me like I'm absolutely nuts.
And I whisper:
"Lucky Man."
And he went:
"O Lucky Man! Yes!"
Absolutely! Lindsay had to be
the director right to the end.
He was right. That made it epic.
Of course.
Glass palaces.
Just look at them.
One day I'll own one of those.
You're very old-fashioned.
What do you mean, I'm old-fashioned?
Well, all this stuff about money
and owning things.
If you want something, just take it.
I always do.
Where did you get this from?
Do you go there often?
Sometimes. When I get bored.
And where does all this other stuff
come from?
That comes from home too.
Daddy's got so much
he never misses anything.
You're lucky.
I've got to get there on my own.
- Get where?
- Right to the top.
How much is a building like that worth?
The ground rent
is 800,000 pounds a year.
It cost 10 times that to build.
And every three months
its value increases by 20 percent.
How do you know?
My father owns it.
Even though it didn't do well
at the box office...
...to me it's sort of the bastard child,
you know.
The one I'm, I suppose,
I'm the most proud of.
I remember when we was, you know, trying
to figure out the end of O Lucky Man!...
...and I said to Lindsay, "You know,
Lindsay, I just don't know what to do...
...at the end."
He said, "Well, what happened to you?"
I went, "What happened to me?
I mean, I'm still in my 20s."
He said, "Well, what happened to you?"
I said, "Well, I...I became a movie star."
He goes, "Well, that's the end."
And then, of course,
I was able to use the slap from Christine...
...and have the director, played by Lindsay
himself, who slaps me with the script.
I don't know, but O Lucky Man!
was a hell of a long script.
And it was pretty painful
getting whacked with--
You know, I think he had a secret delight
in doing it, actually. But....
Now smile.
- I beg your pardon?
- Smile.
- Why?
- Just do it.
I'm afraid I can't smile without a reason.
- What's there to smile about?
- Just do it.
Don't ask why.
What's there to smile about?
So that was O Lucky Man!
and we went off--
I went off to Rome to do
the infamous Caligula.
Now I had one stitch here
and one stitch here.
Those are the costumes,
and a diaper underneath.
That was it. That's what O'Toole had,
that's what Johnny G. had.
And he was in that bath
for about three weeks.
"Has everybody gone to lunch?
Can't see anybody."
"I'll get you a sandwich, John.
What do you want, ham and cheese?
All right, darling, don't worry. You look like
a prune. How long you been in there?"
"The water's getting awfully cold."
That film became a huge hit,
believe it or not.
I hated it, but there you are.
It was a real betrayal because the
producer, or the man who made it...
...was Bob Guccione.
And I remember because
Gore Vidal got me into this.
He wrote the script, the original script.
And I said, "Well, who's putting up
the money, Gore, for this thing?"
He said, "Oh, this man, Bob Guccione."
And I went, "Guccione?
Isn't he a pornographer?"
He goes, "Oh, Malcolm, no, no. Just think
of him as one of the Warner brothers."
I went, "Oh."
"He just signs the checks."
But of course, he didn't.
He shoved in all these Penthouse pets...
...and God knows what.
And after we'd shot the film...
...they did, like, two 10-minute porno
sequences which they put in.
And I'm looking at my pet hawk, you know,
a big close-up of me looking at the hawk.
They cut to two lesbians for 10 minutes,
doing every which thing...
...that lesbians apparently do.
And they come back and
I'm still looking at my hawk, I think.
And I'm going:
And that's the kind of betrayal
I'm talking about.
But, you know, what can you do?
And then I was asked to go to Hollywood
to do a film called Time After Time.
Which was written by this man,
Nicholas Meyer, and directed by him.
For once in his life...
...he was playing the good guy.
And I represented the modern woman
who Jack the Ripper tried to kill...
...and H.G. Wells fell in love with.
And David Warner got the Jack the Ripper
part, I was very happy to say.
The part of H.G. Wells was very interesting
because I don't normally do research.
You know, but I thought,
"Well, I'd better do something."
So I called up the BBC and got them
to send me a recording...
...of H.G. Wells' voice.
And I played this 78 record.
And I was absolutely shocked.
He had a southeast London whine.
He sort of talked a bit like that...
...and on the record it sounded like that.
Crack, crack.
Yes, a bit like that.
And I thought:
"Well, that's not gonna play
in Hollywood.
How can I play the part like that?"
You know, forget it. End of research.
You know, forget it. You gotta play
what the script wants you to deliver.
And it wanted of me, I'm happy to say,
to play a part of whimsy.
Which is a very difficult quality
to actually play.
A man who's displaced into another time.
A man who, in his own Victori--
Edwardian time, is this great socialist...
...this women's libber, the whole thing.
And when he's actually faced with it,
of course, he's absolutely amazed...
...and shocked, and confused, and...
...you know, goes into McDonald's and,
you know, bangs on the table and goes:
"Oh, nice wood. Very nice."
Pommes frites.
Fries are pommes frites.
Well, he was interesting to me because...
...he was, in some ways...
...a little bit more technical of an actor
than I had worked with.
But, having said that,
he was also incredibly intuitive.
He kind of had the best bits of, I think,
the English style of acting of that time.
And yet he had this sort of American...
...exuberance and a freedom...
...that was, at that time, considered...
...perhaps more American than the style of
acting that you saw in England at that time.
It was an incredible film for me
because I fell in love with the leading lady.
You know, it's one of the big
no-noes of the business.
You never get involved, you know.
I never got involved, but you can
never say never in this business.
The scene that I think
is most memorable, probably, for me...
...is in the rotating restaurant
at the top of a hotel.
Right before we started the scene,
Malcolm whispered to me...
...that he was in love with me.
Which was very confusing
and I was completely flustered.
And I remember
during the whole scene...
...being completely flustered
by this secret...
...that he told me right before
we started the scene.
Tell me something.
Did you think it was very forward of me...
...to invite you to lunch like this?
- Do you often invite--
- Do I often invite strange men to lunch?
No, I do not. But it's not often
that a strange man turns me on.
Or a strange woman.
Oh, don't get me wrong.
I didn't mean to imply I was a dyke.
- A dyke?
- Oh, sorry, lesbian or anything like that.
Because I'm not, I like my sex straight.
It's just that I go for months sometimes...
...without meeting anybody who
does it for me, you know what I mean?
A lot of people like my friend Carol, you
know, I'm not telling tales out of school...
...but a lot of people can just
sleep around, you know, but not me.
I really have to like the guy,
otherwise it's just no go.
I'm sorry.
I guess I shouldn't say all that stuff
right off the bat like that.
It's not women's lib, I just get nervous.
When I get nervous I tend to babble.
Do I make you nervous?
Yes. You do, sort of.
Because I like you.
It was a magical time, really.
It was wonderful.
We loved doing it and--
It had fantastic consequences and for me
their names are Lilly and Charlie...
...and also a very long friendship
that's lasted now for three decades.
So Mary and I got married,
we had two great children.
So there was no question of me
ever leaving and going back home.
So I basically left England at that point.
And so-- And then, of course, you know,
eventually we got divorced.
I didn't want to
come back then because...
...I didn't want to be
an absentee father so....
You know,
that's just the way life is sometimes.
You know, it sends you a curveball...
...and so, you know, here I live in this
extraordinary place and this beautiful valley.
And it's sort of a long way
from Lime Street in Liverpool.
And Lilly is an actress now, God help us.
But there you are.
His response was, "Oh, God,
why on Earth would you want to do that?"
He's like, "Lilly, no."
But there you are.
And as she said,
"Dad, what else do I know?"
Like it's my fault.
And I said, "Well, I'm sorry, you know.
Yes, I suppose you're right."
But he always, always reminds me
that it's a very hard profession.
Charlie is a director,
he's at the American Film Institute.
He's just done his thesis film, which of
course he's got all his family in it and stuff.
Anyway, he's a fantastic-- He really--
I think he's very talented.
I'm very, very proud of him
and quite rightly.
To direct my dad
was extremely interesting.
It was less directing than anything else.
It was a lot-- It was more him
sort of directing me, in a way.
It was a great experience. It was--
In the beginning he wanted to test me and
definitely, you know, give me a hard time.
And I got that but, you know,
I stuck with it and I think he respected that.
Because I think he was testing to see sort
of where I was and if I was gonna be okay.
- Right.
- Yeah.
But what I think we have to do is...
...we have to keep, of course,
the profitable parts of the company.
- Yeah.
- Retain the staff.
- And the other staff, you know, we can--
- Get rid of them.
- Exactly.
- Just get it out of there.
But I've made a list of several departments
that we could lose to--
I know, I picked some--
- Something funny here?
- No, I just....
Well, then perhaps you could enlighten us
as to the progress...
...of Ruby Shipping's dissemination.
- Yeah.
- Sure.
Just let me organize my thoughts.
Good. Thank you.
Yes, I mean, of course it's not popular
to be asset-stripping.
But there's other divisions
that we could sell, and sell quickly.
Let me take it home for the weekend.
I have it.
- Oh, good.
- Way ahead of you. Six m--
Sorry, am I--?
Am I missing something here?
I mean, I fail to see the humor in this.
It won't happen again, sir.
It better not.
- I've written up an entire proposal here...
- Yes.
...that we could send over to
Hibbert Shipping.
He came up to me and said...
...sort of the biggest compliment,
in his own way, that he could give me...
...which was, you know:
"I never thought it was my son
directing me. I always felt--
You know, it felt like a director,
just giving me direction."
And then I've got my baby, Beckett.
And Beckett is a name
that's from my grandfather.
He was called Beckett.
And Kelley, who's my wife now, she said:
"If we ever have a child,
if it's a boy, its name is Beckett."
And so Beckett McDowell,
that's a good name to live up to.
So Kelley, I'm very lucky that I met her.
And I met her--
There was a big party,
and I saw this stunning girl...
...from across a room.
It was the old clich.
And I just saw this beautiful blond hair,
but these intense and gorgeous green eyes.
I don't know, it was a funny thing.
I just instantly felt connected to him,
and I think he did to me.
And I didn't know who he was,
actually, Malcolm.
I had seen A Clockwork Orange
when I was 15 or something.
And I-- So I knew of him,
but he looked slightly older.
He had gray hair, he had other--
So I had no idea.
I was clueless as to who this was.
He just knew what he wanted.
He gave me this teeny little piece of paper
with his phone number on it, and said:
"Call me. I have to go away
for three days."
After he left,
my friend was just going crazy.
He didn't want us to be--
You know, he didn't want me to see him.
And he kept saying-- You know, having
friends call saying Malcolm was, you know:
"Have you seen Clockwork Orange?
Have you seen Caligula?
You know,
he's this sort of sinister personality."
And it was very odd.
It was an odd situation.
So by the time, you know,
the three days was up...
...I was kind of anxious to sort of
call Malcolm and reconnect with him...
...because he seemed so different than
what everyone was telling me about him...
...you know, being like this "bad guy,"
...that he seems to always play.
And she still has the piece of paper.
And thank God she called.
From the third day or so,
we never separated.
And it's been--
We're in our 17th year now.
Fifteen years into it,
we had this incredible little boy.
I mean, I guess I couldn't be happier.
You know,
the strange course my life took.
I was very, very lucky, since it's....
I'd waited a long time for that relationship.
And I just lucked out. So.
Yes, of course, I've done so many films...
...that really, it's shocking
when I see them lined up on the Internet.
I think one year,
I knocked off seven movies.
And they were all bad.
You know, you make so many movies,
You know, I got very lucky
when I did Gangster No. 1.
I'm very proud of this film.
Don't take it.
What do you want?
Oh, the flat, is that it?
You wanna move in?
It's brilliantly written, you know...
...and I don't think I ad-libbed anything.
You know, it's a very...
...it's a very tough piece
about these gangsters.
And it doesn't, you know,
pull any punches about it.
That's what it is. They are profane
and they are violent beyond belief.
I got to work with Edoardo Ponti.
I was very impressed with him
as a director.
You can't go up there.
No, no, no. This is private,
it's not for customers.
It's all right.
I used to own this store.
- This place?
- Yes.
My family, we....
We lived upstairs.
So you want to--?
You want to look around? Is that it?
You can-- You can come with me.
There's something chemical
that happens in his eyes.
When you say, "Action,"
his eyes go from blue to electric blue.
And it's the very word "action"...
...that stimulates that chemical change
in his iris.
He has a relationship with the camera.
The camera photographs something
that the naked eye does not see.
Malcolm is more on camera.
You look so much like her.
When I found out
they were letting you out early....
I mean, 22 years.
For beating that woman to death....
You don't think
it was enough either, do you?
Do you?
Please don't do this to yourself.
Think of your family.
I don't have a family anymore.
I'm not worth it.
So I was investigating hatred...
...and hating Malcolm as my father.
And it's one thing
to think about hating someone...
...but it's another thing
to actually experience it.
And I didn't know what moral force
Malcolm, as my father...
...would bring to the scene.
And I wouldn't know that
until we called, "Rolling."
And I didn't want to know.
And I remember looking up at him
and catching his eyes...
...and it was impossible to hate him.
And it was impossible not to love him.
And that wasn't an intellectual idea,
it was a really confusing idea.
And the more I tried to drive forward...
...with an agenda,
with an intent to do bad...
...the more I realized
he was breaking my heart.
He broke my heart in that scene.
He was completely conducting that scene.
He told me what and who I was
in that duality.
He just gave me my performance
in an instant.
Malcolm is known for,
for lack of a better word...
...the exuberance of his performance.
Malcolm is at his greatest,
because in between the exuberance...
...there are these touches,
which are ever so subtle, ever so minute...
...which in fact give weight
to the exuberance.
Without those, the exuberance would be
something that we could not relate to.
But because of these small human details,
the exuberance acquires meaning.
He respectfully
makes fun of the director...
...which is in fact very liberating.
Because it gives a director
the opportunity to screw up...
...and to try things
without ever feeling bad about it.
Because you have an actor who
abuses you, why not abuse him?
Normally you always
have to sidestep your judgment.
You have to be, rightfully so, diplomatic.
You shouldn't really judge an actor.
You should try to inspire them
with your notes.
With Malcolm,
because there's this level of humor...
...surrounding the whole thing,
you can tell him:
"This was awful, Malcolm."
And that's liberating.
To be able to tell to an actor--
Knowing that nothing will happen to him
because you say this...
...because it is within this level of respect.
--"This was awful, Malcolm."
Or, "This was amazing, Malcolm."
Because both can block an actor.
With Malcolm, nothing blocks him.
These extremes inspire him, in a way.
They challenge him.
Malcolm wants to be challenged
when you direct him.
I would characterize
Malcolm's attitude towards me as...
...rude, basically.
He has never been very nice to deal with.
But nevertheless,
our relationship maintained and grew.
And I had recently written a picture...
...based on C.S. Forester's first novel,
called Payment Deferred.
And all joking aside,
Malcolm has a kind of intensity...
...beneath the charm and the chat
and the insults which I have weathered...
...which is really, in my opinion,
going to make him be...
as the powerful actor that he is.
I know that he has this in him
and he is extraordinary.
But on a personal level,
not so satisfactory.
As I say, rude, condescending,
I think he resents my education,
which he should...
...because it's kind of pathetic
to have to deal with his level of ignorance.
But the charm, you know...
...the kind of affection that we have
for each other...
...wins out in the end.
I mean, I had some wonderful parts, really,
in the last few years...
...and worked with dear friends...
...one of them being Mike Hodges,
with Mike Kaplan, who's a dear friend.
Although you would have thought they
would've written me a slightly better part...
...than the one that they did...
...because I did this film called
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.
So I thought:
"Well, I'd better read the script,"
you know?
So on the plane, I'm reading the script,
and I'm going:
"Well, what-- Which part is this?"
I mean, I'm going, "What?"
I'm going, "It can't be the guy
that buggers this guy, surely."
And I'm going, "My God.
That's what they've written for me,
my friends.
They've asked me to play a part
that I wouldn't even do in Caligula."
You know, I mean, and here I am...
...doing it, you know,
for very little money, for my friends.
Now, I'd watched Malcolm
over 30, 40 years.
I remember seeing him in If....
...and thinking
what an extraordinary actor he was.
And I've sort of watched him age,
and I've watched him mature...
...in the range of performances
that he gives.
And there is an element in Malcolm.
He's a bit of a leprechaun.
He's a kind of--
He has a wicked side to him.
It's not malevolent in any sense at all...
...but he sort of enjoys gossip,
and he enjoys all of that.
So in a way, he's--
He can always adapt that to playing
these particularly evil sort of characters.
And he's made a living out of it, in fact.
With this role,
whilst it is malevolent and unpleasant...
...he presented me with a real--
With a gift, actually.
Acting's a very mysterious business.
Why people become actors
is also mysterious.
It's very private.
And there are moments
when you're a director...
...when an actor comes to you...
...and gives you something
which is so extraordinary that you--
You're breathless, in a sense.
And he gave me that moment
at the end of this film.
Why'd you do it?
There's always a reason.
You must have had a reason.
I want to kill you so badly
I can taste it.
I know who you are.
You're just like he was.
So sure of himself.
So certain of what he was.
I was watching him for weeks, you know?
The parties, the restaurants, the clubs.
He was everything I loathed.
The clothes, the walk, the talk, the lies.
The way he smoked, the way he laughed.
Laughing, always laughing, mocking.
Everything, everyone.
And the women.
Their eyes like hands on him, all the time.
I mean, come on, what--?
What was he, huh?
Thief? Huh?
Drug dealer?
A degenerate?
I wanted to show him what he was.
He was less than nothing.
I wanted him to know that.
I'm gonna kill you.
I don't know what Malcolm would've done
if he hadn't been an actor. I really don't.
He was a born actor. He's just....
It's his life, is playing different roles.
And privately, it's because
he's a great raconteur.
And one of the funniest I've ever...
...ever met in my life.
He tells stories that make you
absolutely hold your sides with laughter.
He's got a great sense of humor,
and a great practical joker...
...and there is nothing more than
he would like than to get me at something.
And he tries it consistently...
...and over the years,
I've been less and less susceptible to it...
...but it's his unique talent...
...and it's also a part of the reason
he's such a great actor.
Because, as much as I know him,
invariably, he'll get me.
He'll get me on any of these pranks
that he does...
...no matter how much I know
that something might be wrong.
Almost every time something happens
now that is unexpected...
...I'm looking around, knowing that
Malcolm has had something to do with it.
So let me tell you one story.
You guys are like The Two Ronnies.
Yeah, The Two Ronnies.
So he's on the phone.
We're going back to London now...
...and we're going back to London
in 1971 or 2.
He's on the phone in Penzance Place,
and I used to walk my dog over there...
...and this would be Mike, on the phone,
the phone's cradle...
...and he'd be talking about yet another
opening of this film, La Valle. Okay?
The greatest travelogue
in the history of film.
So he's out--
Which Mike was distributing.
He was the exhibitor, and he was--
So he's doing this with his hands,
like this.
And in the end I said,
"What's with the--? What's with that?
Why do you keep doing that?
Every time I see you, you're doing this."
He goes, "Well...
...I heard that-- I read somewhere
that if you do this...
...the friction in the nails
stimulates the growth--
New growth on the hair on the head, right?
And I've got a little bit of a--"
I went, "You mean you're going bald."
"No, a little bit of a thinning problem."
- I didn't say anything about thinning.
- All right, whatever you said.
I gotta make the--
I gotta make the story interesting, right?
So, you know, whatever you said.
I don't remember exactly what you said.
So this is basically true, right?
So he's doing this and I'm going,
"What a weird guy."
You know? He's gotta be weird.
I mean, to think that this is gonna
stimulate, by friction in the nails...
...growth of the hair. Right?
I think it's ridiculous.
- We get the point.
- So I figured, okay.
I gotta use this somewhere, but--
So anyway, many years go by.
Maybe three or four years go by.
I've, by this time, moved to Hollywood.
I'm living in the Hills.
And my then-wife, Mary,
who you've met...
...is having a party for the Super Bowl,
or some party, anyway...
...and she said to me, "Oh, by the way,
I've got a friend of mine coming over.
I haven't seen him since high school."
I went, "Oh, great, fine." Whatever.
Anyway, they all came.
Mike was there, of course.
The doorbell went, I went to answer
the door, I opened the door...
...and there's a guy standing there
with an Afro like this.
I mean, I've never seen so much hair
on a head in my life, and I went, "Wow."
And he said who he was, I said,
"Oh, you're Mary's friend from high school.
Great. Listen. Do me a favor.
In the middle of the game...
...would you please just start doing this
with your nails?"
And he went, "Well, why is that?"
I went, "Just do this.
And somebody's gonna ask you
why you're doing it...
...and just tell him that,
three years earlier, you were bald."
So of course, it gave me
so much pleasure...
...because halfway through,
the guy starts doing this.
Mike is there, and he suddenly sees it
and he goes:
And then I see him work himself around,
and he sat next to the guy and he goes:
"Uh-- Uh--
I know this." And the guy's--
And he goes, "Uh--"
I didn't go "uh, uh, uh," I asked him.
Because everybody knows you start off:
Then you go, "I notice you're doing...."
And he goes, "Yeah, friction, it--
I was bald three years ago."
And he went, "I knew it."
And he's so excited, right?
Now, I was crying with laughter.
Mary and I had to rush into the kitchen,
we were screaming with laughter.
That's what he does. He's so diabolical
in these things that he comes up with.
- I mean, he just saves them.
- It was a given, and it was so much fun.
And I had forgotten to tell you about it
until, like, 15 years later.
- I was with Kelley.
- You didn't tell me-- They told me after--
- You told me afterwards.
- Did I?
- Yeah, yeah.
- Yeah, okay.
And Mary was cracking up.
Oh, I wonder why. I wonder why.
And then I did, of course,
Bob Altman's film, The Company.
And this is, you know,
being directed by Bob Altman.
You come on the set, you're prepared...
...he goes, "Oh, Malcolm, great.
You got the scene?"
I said, "Yeah, I've got the scene."
He goes, "Well, forget it."
"Oh. Oh, yeah?"
He goes, "Yeah. Now, okay...
...I want you to call the company together
and inspire them."
You go, "Wow. That's, like,
a week's work, isn't it?"
"Right, are we ready? Action."
And you're not quite sure what's
coming out of your mouth, you know?
I did not not choose Malcolm.
I mean, he was always--
I never thought of anybody else
for that guy.
I've known Malcolm for years.
I knew Malcolm when he was doing If....,
so I've known him for a long, long time.
We just-- You know, we just clicked.
We just understand each other, I guess.
That's what it is.
First place, he's a fine actor, you know,
and we all know that from a distance.
But when you work with somebody
is when you really know what kind of--
What kind of an actor they are.
What their chops are.
And Malcolm, he came in
and he took that part...
...and he created it.
Malcolm did a phenomenal job
as Gerry Arpino...
...who is the head of the Joffrey Ballet.
He came three weeks early
before we started shooting...
...and just followed Gerry around.
And, you know, went in to all
his business meetings and his lunches...
...and spent every day
and every evening with him...
...and got to know his world.
And he really did take on a great part
of Arpino's personality.
It was really amazing to watch.
He didn't imitate him.
But he kind of got, I think...
...the essence of what was important
to this man...
...and what he expressed about that.
How that affected him in his expression.
And just in the way
he talked to the dancers.
And he was--
It was a remarkable experience for me.
What was wonderful about watching
people like Malcolm...
...and Bob Altman, actually,
come into the project of The Company...
...was to see them learn and experience
the world of dance for the first time.
Malcolm hadn't known a lot
about the world of dance beforehand.
And what was beautiful is...
...I think he really developed
a great appreciation for the dancers.
I mean, dancers are phenomenal artists
and phenomenal athletes...
...and they work incredibly hard.
It's hard to understand that
when you watch it...
...because part of the purpose of ballet is to
make something impossible look very easy.
So you don't quite understand
the work that goes into it.
What was lovely was
the amount of enthusiasm...
...that Malcolm had for the dancers.
And he let them know on a daily basis
how amazed he was by them.
And it was really wonderful to watch.
And Malcolm was terrific.
Aside from his presence and his art
that he dedicated to the film...
...he was just a terrific asset
through all aspects of it.
And also he's fun to be around.
And then a film called
Red Roses and Petrol...
...which is about an Irish family.
It was a play.
And it's sort of evident from the film
that it was a play, you know?
But it's beautifully written.
And then one day
we drove up to Cleggan.
And we took the ferry out to Inishbofin.
It was Moya and the girls,
and the young lad.
And the sea...
...the sea was the color of amethyst.
It was pitch black one night
in Connemara.
I was with the young lad...
...and he had his hand in mine
as we walked up the boreen.
We had torches, the two of us...
...and when he shone his torch in my face,
he saw that I was smiling.
And he asked me why.
And I told him.
I said:
"I'm just happy to be here with my son."
I have to say, working with Malcolm,
you learn as much as...
...being in school, practically.
He's a very energetic guy...
...full of passion and charisma.
And like a crazy psychopathic, actually,
in a weird way, you know?
But they're qualities that I also have
so I related to him.
And yet, when we do the work...
...all of that energy gets condensed
and put into whatever the work requires.
And everything that was a tornado
becomes a very calm lake.
Originally, I thought that
there would be an embrace.
And Malcolm said,
"I think I'm gonna give him a smack."
And he said, of course,
we're not gonna tell the actor.
And so it happened.
We set up the scene, we don't tell Max
that this is about to happen.
Max walks into the pub,
Malcolm gives him a smack...
...that literally caused blood
to come into the kid's mouth.
And he nearly took my head off,
you know?
He smashed me around the face.
Like, I've never been slapped
as hard in me life.
It was a shocking scene for all of us.
But beautiful.
Because then, like,
this quick juxtapose was the cuddle...
...and then we're off,
and we're on the journey together...
...and then that was really nice.
And this is working with Malcolm.
I mean, you're just waiting for him
to hand you these gifts.
You just, you know,
you get a little seduced by it.
I mean, you kind of want more.
It can be a little addictive, I have to say.
So, Helen.
- Where are you from?
- Oxford.
Ah. 'Tis a beautiful city.
I was there once.
For a short while.
I know.
The agency told me that that was where
you met my mother.
As an actor...
...he so embodies and so believes
in what he's doing...
...that you go much beyond
what the actual surface of the scene is...
...to many, many deeper layers...
...that only a man
of his very special qualities can give you.
He's a great teacher, Malcolm, you know.
And he taught me
a great thing about...
...if you're ever playing someone who's
dark, or very evil, or a psychotic or....
The ego in a man, in a male actor...
...makes you wanna hold on to some kind
of nice qualities for the audience...
...if you have got quite a big ego
as a male actor, you know.
And he taught me, basically,
forget about that.
If you're an animal, be an animal.
Don't have any redeeming qualities,
just go for it.
He said, "Look at me in Clockwork Orange,
Bees. I was a lunatic and a rapist."
I mean, you know,
and it made perfect sense.
Great acting, to me, and this is why
I love somebody like Jimmy Cagney.
Because Jimmy Cagney, to me,
is as great as film acting gets.
You cannot get any better than him.
And why is that?
Because he's got watchability.
You can't take your eyes off him.
The way he moves, and movement
is so important in film to me.
It's not just walking.
You walk with a purpose,
with a movement, and with a--
You know, because that fills the screen.
That's what's interesting.
And what else does Cagney do?
Well, his delivery is like a machine gun.
But you do not see any acting at all.
It's like it's absolutely
sort of naturalistic.
Which it isn't.
It's realistic, but it isn't.
It's real, yes. You believe it, yes.
But he's acting in a definite style.
But you never see any acting at all.
And if you can do that,
then I think you've done a good job.
The art of it, or the craft of it,
whatever you wanna call it...
...is making it so seamless, you know?
As Lindsay said to me, you know:
"You know, Malcolm, the thing is this."
He said, "I don't want realism. It's boring.
Well, who wants realism?"
He goes, "Go watch a documentary
if you wanna see that.
I want you to be real, but not realistic.
I want you to be heightened. I want you--
It's a style, you know? A great style.
You never, ever try
to make an audience like you.
You know? They do or they don't.
Just be real to it.
Be, you know, truthful.
That's important.
It's important to know
that you can be disliked."
So get this. I had a house in Italy...
...and I have a dear friend
called David Grieco...
...who Lindsay introduced me to,
and he was a dear, dear friend...
...and every time I went to Italy
for the summer, you know...
...I'd hang with David
because he lived close by...
...and his children came to swim in my pool
and the whole thing.
And he said, you know,
"I've written this book."
I didn't even know--
I said, "What's it called?"
He said,
The Communist Who Ate Children.
I went, "Catchy title."
I said, "David--"
You know, I knew he was a critic.
I said, "It's time to piss or get off the pot.
Write the script, direct the film."
This is a serial killer...
...who is one of the most
monstrous people...
...that ever lived in the Soviet Union.
He killed over a hundred children...
...and he was a pedophile and a cannibal.
I left it at that. The next year I come out,
here's the script.
"Oh, my God. Oh, oh, oh.
Well, let's read it."
So we read the script. We read it out loud.
I said, "Look, let me give you
a little bit of advice here, David.
You don't have the main character...
...raping a 10-year-old child, right...
...in the first five minutes of the film.
It's just-- It's not good.
There's no way anybody's gonna watch
the film after that. Okay?
If you want to do it, do it at the end
of the film, not at the beginning."
Next year I come out, he said,
"I've done some great rewrite."
"Great. Let's read it." We read it.
And I notice that scene is
still at the beginning of the damn film.
So this goes on for, like, three years
and I said, "Well, you know...
...I guess you really must want
this scene."
So I thought really nothing more about it.
And I didn't think anyway
he had a hell in chance...
...of getting the money for this film,
you know.
But of course, I get a call to say:
"We have the money. We're going."
You know, like, "Oh, really?
I'll be playing a serial killer
that kills a hundred children. Lovely."
How's that for a joke? Ahem.
I didn't want to make a film
about a serial killer.
I wanted to make a film
about the fall of Communism.
And I felt that the real story
of this serial killer...
...would be an incredible metaphor
of the fall of Communism.
I'm very, very proud of this performance...
...simply because...
...you know, it was...
...a harrowing thing to do.
You know, my wife was pregnant...
...I'm playing a pedophile.
I'm playing a cannibal.
I'm playing a monster.
And, you know, I'm sitting here
in this beautiful valley...
...having to, you know--
With the plane ticket to the Ukraine...
...sitting on my kitchen table.
And I'm thinking,
"I must be nuts. I'm nuts.
You can't even get a good sandwich
over there."
And I'm thinking, "Oh, God.
David, what have you written me?
You know, you've written me
this part which--"
I didn't know how to play this damn part.
I had no idea.
So I go over there and meet him in Kiev.
And he gives me a stack of videotapes
on the real guy.
Who was in prison
in Moscow at the time.
Since been executed.
So I'm looking at these things.
I'm going, "I don't work like this.
I'm not gonna play this guy.
You know, it's not a biopic on this guy.
What do I care?"
And I suddenly, at the very end of like
eight hours of these damned tapes--
I had a shower, I've eaten, and I'm still--
Come back and they're still playing.
And I see this guy...
...in a cage, in the courtroom...
...and all I see was a shot of
him looking at the camera...
...and looking into it and smiling.
And I went, "Oh, my God...
...that's the man."
And he sort of...
...had a facial expression, a:
And I thought, "Wow."
And I just decided that--
You know, I never do this. Ever.
--I would not use one ounce of myself...
...in this part.
I would do an Olivier, if you like.
I would get everything externally
and put it on.
Not with makeup
because that's cheating.
But just with a physical being.
A stoop, a facial expression...
...and the way the body--
I told you about movement
and how important that is.
And so the first day we were on a bus...
...and looking at potential victims.
And I get off the bus
and I have to walk across the street...
...to a girl at the bus stop.
And I said to David,
"Well, I better come up with a walk."
How about this? And suddenly--
I don't know. It just came, you know,
like these things often do.
The hunch, the thing of the fingers
like this.
All sort of like a vulture.
Have you been waiting long?
So that's the way--
So that I could just, pfft...
...throw it off.
I had a very pleasant time
in the Ukraine...
...and they do have
some good restaurants there.
Malcolm used to make jokes all the time
on the set.
Even if he's playing an ugly character
like Evilenko...
...he always makes jokes.
And this makes possible for the crew...
...do a film like that.
We've never been disgusted by the subject
and by this character...
...because Malcolm always made fun.
And I think that, for him,
is very useful...
...because he can get rid
of the character every day...
...just quick as this:
I got very lucky to get Marton Csokas...
...who's a dear friend
and a wonderful actor.
There's an incredible scene
when we're both naked.
As I said to David, you know:
"Thanks for writing a scene where,
you know, me, 60...
...and, you know, naked with a guy...
...of, you know, 30-whatever,
who's an Adonis.
You know, thanks a lot for that one."
But it's such an intense
and incredible scene.
Where are you taking me?
What's your name?
Vadim Timurouvic.
And why aren't you at home
at this hour of the day...
...Vadim Timurouvic?
Because my father and mother are dead.
Oh. I'm sorry.
Don't cry.
But I'm going to be the one
to look after you now.
But you must do everything I say.
Take your clothes off now.
Another very interesting script...
...and a wonderful part for me--
I hope, anyway.
--is Julian Dinzel's Amazing Grace.
Of course, another monster really, but....
I seem to be sort of...
...offered quite a lot of these monsters.
So if I can ever play
just a nice, easy, straight part...
...with a cup of tea on a sofa...
...I'll jump at the chance.
And my mother said:
"Eww. Why don't you play nice people?
Why are you always playing
horrible people?
My favorite is The Raging Moon.
Even though you are in a wheelchair."
And I love working. I just love it.
If I didn't, I wouldn't do it.
And I think that if you love it...
...and you get that enthusiasm...
...and you get that light
that goes off in the eyes...
...then it's infectious for the audience.
They go with you on the trip...
...on the journey, you know.
I think I've been extremely lucky.
I've had more luck than, really, I deserve.
And, of course, you know,
I've had a privileged life.
I never, ever forget that.
You know, the life of an actor--
They pay me way too much money...
...even though not enough, sometimes.
I'm just-- I'm joking. I'm being facetious.
But really, you get paid
way too much money...
...and, you know, you get to visit
all these amazing places.
But the thing is, there are lots of dangers.
And lots of traps...
...that you have to be careful.
It's a big minefield, you know.
It's very easy to burn out.
It's very easy to get lost.
And it's very easy to believe
what they write about you.
And if you can keep your feet,
basically, on the ground...
...and know that you're not
the greatest thing since sliced bread...
...and that it's just a job...
...and you're not curing cancer...
...then, you'll be fine.
No, it's a great job. I'm not an artist.
At the very best, you know,
I'm a craftsman.
That's about it.
So I work and I work
and I do lots of crap...
...and occasionally a little gem
comes my way.
And that's what I look for
and that's what I hope for.
But often it doesn't work out that way.
But even on the crappy films...
...I have a lot of fun.
Especially if the catering's good.
"--from Bangladesh. A poster--
I'm a poster collector from Bangladesh."
He's got enough material already.
And he goes, "Yes, yes?"
And then, "I'm looking for a poster.
I'm looking for a poster of Joan Blondell.
Joan Blondell.
Do you have a Joan Blondell?"
He goes, "Well, I think-- That's amazing...
...because I just got a Joan Blondell."
This is him, right?
- And I'm-- We're just--
- I collect vintage movie posters.
Let's leave-- No one has to know--
I think we've got enough.
Oh, you mean you're embarrassed
by this one?
Yeah. Well, I would be if I was you.