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Episode 295

Nerdist Podcast

Malcolm McDowell

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Nerdist Podcast: Malcolm McDowell

The extremely talented and wonderful Malcolm McDowell sits down with Chris to discuss the nostalgia of old Hollywood, his days on set of A Clockwork Orange and much more!

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50 comments

  • Wow, amazing interview. Malcolm McDowell sounds like a really fun guy to talk to. Met him once, purely by accident back in about 1983. I was wearing a Clockwork Orange t-shirt with Malcolm on it. I was wearing a coat over it and I said, “Hang on, I’m wearing my t-shirt.” Then I took off my coat and he said, “She’s wearing her t-shirt.” In that amazing way he has. It was such a great moment. He seemed amused.

  • McDowell is a badass.

    You guys need to interview more badasses like this guy, who clearly doesn’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks. A fun interview with a guy who is hilarious. A much better guest than so many of the other interviews you’ve done. (The worst was Zoey Dachenelle- who I wanted to murder by the end of it with her annoying California valley girl talk.)

    Also, When are you gonna get Bruce Campbell? It seems to be a given for this show.

  • absolute delightful episode! had a big grin on my face for the duration. wouldn’t have minded another couple of hours!

    malcom fucking mcdowell! who CAN’T you get, mr. hardwick??

    this podcast is on a roll!

  • Okay, here’s a transcription:

    McDowell: “He’s gay, you know … he couldn’t care less. He was so thrilled seeing little boys naked.”
    Hardwick: (slightly apprehensive) “I didn’t know that … I mean, I knew he was gay, I didn’t know … I thought he was horrified by the end of it, like, ‘I had no idea that we’re …’”

    So, you basically had the exact same reaction I had — you paused for a second and obviously asked yourself “did he just say what I think he said?”. Anyone who claims YOU supported a paedophile joke didn’t listen or is an obvious troll. You really have to stop letting those people get to you. Seriously. This is the second time already you threw me in with them. And oh my Glob you should know SO FUCKING MUCH BETTER by now.

    Anyway, of course it’s all about context, it was the 1970s, Gielgud obviously was a flamboyantly gay man, McDowell clearly adored him, it was before the age of politcal correctness, yadayadayada. All true, but I’m with Patty on this. I’m fiercly protective of gay rights, and shockingly enough we live in a time where mainstream American politicians (presidential candidates at that) spout the most horrible homophobic bullshit and get applauded for it. That’s why this quote made me cringe. “Little boys” is the most unfortunate expression he could have chosen. “Young men” or even “young boys” would have been so much less ambigious than, of all things, “LITTLE BOYS”. Some asshole could easily take that and have a fucking bigoted field day with it — “see, all that depravity in Caligula — that’s gay people for you!”.

    That said, again, in context with everyhing else McDowell said, this obviously is NOT what he intended to say. That’s why all I said was that it gave me pause. Choose your words carefully, especially when a lot of people are listening.

  • Perfect example of why Chris is a great host / interviewer. His economy or words and even laughs in this cast is a testament to how tuned in he is Great show. No offense to Jonah and Matt, but some shows need Hardwick exceptionalism

  • @Doctor Quemmento – Yeah, no doubt “young boys” means different things to he and I. I just had a Scooby-Doo “Ruh-ROH” moment because I’ve gay friends who’ve put up with shit they shouldn’t have to and accusations of being kiddie diddlers ain’t new to the LGBT crowd. It’s like if you heard someone use the word “boy” to describe someone who happened to be African-American. Are they indeed referring to an underage male or is it a slur, one that would be merely weird if it were used on an adult male of any other race but has loaded meaning in that context. Intent matters.

    @Chris Hardwick – Whoever accused you of being down with a pedophilia joke is clearly a poopy head. Fuck ‘em. Or don’t. You’ve better things to do.

  • @Patty
    I see what you mean, but look at the environment from which that story sprung. He was talking about a time and an environment, the London theater scene in the 1970s, in which flamboyant gay men were so common and enmeshed in that particular society that nobody thought twice about it. In that context nobody would assume you were saying anything provocative or inappropriate just because it involved a gay man.

    Contrast that with American society and you’ve got a whole different ballgame. No pun intended. I think that his word choice was a product of the scene that he was recreating with the story and not intended to be viewed, in a more jaded fashion, from the eyes of a sect of society that would assume something criminal took place based on a simplistic and prejudiced stereotype about homosexual men.

  • @Matt Grandis – I was uncomfortable with MM’s claim that Sir Gielgud “…was so thrilled to see little boys naked” (@ 0:50:50) and wished he had said “young guys” or some such thing. “Gays are after our children” is an especially unkind rallying cry for some homophobes, so it’s not exactly the same as saying “that old dude likes young girls” and therefore raises eyebrows.

    He probably DID mean “young adult males” since, as CH points out, it was the set of the world’s most expensive porno (BTW, saw the uncut version at the Cinematheque and was so bored I was fantasizing about sweet and sour chicken during the orgy scene), but the word choice WAS off-putting.

  • I agree the story about John Gielgud on Caligula sounded somewhat questionable at first (“He’s gay, he couldn’t care less”). But it ended with a quote that confirmed that Gielgud really did like working on Caligula because he was gay (“I’ve never seen so much cock in my life!”). Basically, his thesis seemed a bit ignorant, but then he backed it up with a direct quote. And as Grandmaster Hardwick said, the part about the naked young boys wasn’t meant to be taken literally, they were just younger than the elderly gay man in question.

  • I didn’t say he called Gielgud a paedophile. I said I wished he would have elaborated on that remark, precisely because he doesn’t seem like a guy who would make such a blanket statement. I thought you sounded a bit taken aback there yourself for a second.

    Just like the Thatcher remark. I would have loved to hear what he meant by admiring her for “biting the bullet” (big surprise, I’m not a fan of hers, and I think she helped to create many economical and social problems we face today). Not need to defend him, I only would have wanted to hear him say in his own words what exactly that thinks. I know you want to keep politics out of the podcast, so that’s okay. Might have made for another interesting discussion.

  • @mattgrandis: Malcolm was not saying, “Gielgud was a pedophile because he’s gay.” Not in the SLIGHTEST. First off, from a 70 year old’s POV, anyone under 30 is “a young boy” the same way the if a straight 70 year old slept with 20 year olds you’d say, “He sure likes the young girls!” How did Malcolm know that John liked young men? Because they were friends and he was there. Is there anything wrong with the fact that that’s what he liked? Absolutely not and no one was judging him. The film they were shooting, Caligula, was rated X. No one was underage.

    Secondly, he wasn’t making a universal statement about gay men. He was justifying his thesis statement. He was saying “he likes other men because he is gay, you see.” There is literally nothing wrong with that statement. You have to understand that he IDOLIZED Gielgud. He lived with him for crap sake. Nothing here was sideways, malicious or homophobic.

    I hope this has allayed your concerns!

  • Great episode. Just plain great.

    I, of course, spent the whole time listening to Mr. McDowell’s voice and thinking of Enclave President John Henry Eden from Fallout 3. And now I want to hurry home from work to play it.

  • @Matt Grandis – Yeah, those comments gave me pause as well. One perpetuates a nasty stereotype and the other…well, maybe he’s talking about the need for austerity measures to balance European budgets, though I’m not so sure how well THAT’S been working out.

  • More old-school actor types, please. This is absolutely fascinating (Michael Emerson was great, btw, thankyouverymucheddy). The only parts that gave me pause were the “of course Gielgud loved little boys, he was gay!” quip and that thing about admiring Thatcher. Would have loved to hear him clarify these remarks.

  • I’d never have guessed McDowell was such a huge get for you, Herr Hardwick. That just makes you even more impressive to this old codger. I, to loved him in “Sunset”(as a charming psychopath–the kind you might actually meet in real life & never know it–, I think he even outdoes Bale in “American Psycho”). Two movies I was hoping you’d touch on were “Tank Girl” and “Royal Flash”, but ya can’t have everything.
    Listening to someone like McDowell is why I wish Billingsley & Favreau(or, just Billingsley w/a different host) would have kept doing “Dinner for Five”. Love old actors’ stories. And his Gielgud was perfect. How fun. Hope you can talk him back on someday.

  • @SlimCharles I get what you’re saying in a way, and I (and everyone else I’m sure) appreciate your ability to state your opinion without resorting to any kind of trollish stupidity.

    For me I think it’s less about the profile of the guest and more about other factors. You don’t get much more well known than Tom Hanks but that was one of my favorite episodes of all time and I think it felt totally “nerdist” to me. I think what lends the more “interviewy” feel to this episode is probably that Matt and Jonah weren’t able to be there so that automatically sets up a more traditional one on one interview type dynamic though Chris does a great job of keeping things interesting.

  • The airport intros are always fun! :) I know that I follow the author John Green’s vlogs and there have been time when he’s doing the same thing in an airport only he’s filming as well…some odd reactions at times to say the least!

    I love Malcolm on Franklin and Bash right now, it’s great that he can play such a crazy character and still make him feel real somehow.

    Another great episode to make my work day better, thanks! :)

  • I kinda think this podcast is much more charming when you interview some less known people than huge stars. This just seems like… an interview. I’m guessing Richard Gere is next? :P

    Which is not to say I didn’t like this, or that I think ‘You sold out, Big C, remember when you were cool? You’re not. I’m done listening to this podcast!’. Or something like that. No. I’m just saying I prefer when you talk to some other people..

  • @picklemeth – I was wondering something similar. Like if he goes off into a corner like Golem and hides or is there a crowd of folks watching him as he reads from a chicken-scratched script or something.

  • I don’t know what it is about all these veteran actors, but I always find their anecdotes fascinating. Usually, when the history goes back far enough they can be more candid when they no longer have to pimp their flick and man, they have some whoppers. It’s a bit of a shame that he wasn’t a huge 80s fan because he was in two of my favorite films of that era: SUNSET and BLUE THUNDER.

    I think I remember there was a BLUE THUNDER TV show with Bubba Smith for a while, but I don’t think it lasted long. I think it was AIRWOLF’d in the same way FERRIS BUELLER was PARKER LEWIS’d.

    Oh shit. Does anyone remember THE HIGHWAYMAN? It was this quasi-MAD MAX TV show with Sam “Flash Gordon” Jones and Jacko from the Energizer commercials.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYsmKoPEqGM&w=420&h=315

    Don’t know why I brought that up. Being tangential I guess.

  • Loved listening to Mr. McDowell’s* brief history lesson about post-war England and how the mood was reflected in the arts. If anyone is interested, here’s the info on the play/movie he mentions at the end of the interview:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_Back_in_Anger

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_Back_in_Anger_%28film%29

    @Three Toes of Fury – Kopat those lines, my molodoy droog! Guff I did!

    @Chris Hardwick – Poor fella, another rushed airport intro. Do your blood pressure a favor – maybe record all three intros for the week on Sunday night? The send them to Katie (where the heck has she been, anyway?) or whoever else you trust with them along with the podcasts themselves with instructions as to which intro goes with what interview and what days they are to be released and then you spend the rest of the week doing watcha do to earn the money. MUCH easier on your psyche, good sir! I’m sure your myriad of minions could be trusted to post them. Actually, you have something better than minions…you have interns, which are like minions except you don’t have to clothe, feed or pay them.

    *Feels a bit weird to refer to him as “MR. McDowell” as I keep imagining his naked butt from “A Clockwork Orange,” but it’s kinda hard to shake an upbringing that included addressing someone old enough to be your(grand) parent as “Mr. This” or “Mrs. That.” Hard to believe he’s sixty-nine-years-old.

  • Amazing episode! I was smiling the whole time.

    Laser accuracy as Pete would say.

    Somehow the reviewers over at Podmass will still find a way to not enjoy this gem of an episode

  • One of these days, I really want someone to interrupt Chris during an intro and ask why he’s advertising into his phone in public. Or are there multiple takes involved?

  • If you want to get the podcast soon after they are made, then send a big fat e-check to nerdist.com care of Chris Hardwick. I’m sure he’ll create a special intro for you if you send a value with a 1 and a whole lot of zeroes before the decimal point. Otherwise I don’t think buying a Nerdist mug and bugging the interns will get it any faster.

  • I could listen to Malcom McDowell talk for days. His voice is so awesome he could read the phone book (that’s an actual book that they used to deliver to people with phone numbers in it BEFORE the internet, for the young’ins) and I would be happy with just that. I also would’ve loved to have been there with Olivier got dissed, that would have made my day.

  • @Daniel Alvarez & @Patty: I don’t go looking for the Podcast, I let the Podcast come to me.

    The Podcasts ate usually up before 6 am Eastern, but if not it’s no big deal. They still get posted, I still listen to them….

    A friend of mine and his brother work security for HorrorFind in Gettysburg, and said Mr. McDowell and Denise Crosby were wonderful to hang out with. I’m a sucker for not going to that.

    Mr. McDowell was at another con nearby a few years back, and was funny and very personable to folks wanting autographs & to chat. Best part was when he took a call, on stage, to tell his friend that he couldn’t play golf that day. Because he was at a Star Trek convention. Then proceeded to hold the phone up so the audience could confirm in a loud cacophony of cheering and yelling.

  • .
    “Podcasts…are the fire in which we burn”.

    “No time for the ole in/out love..ive come to check for the latest nerdist youtube channel video”.

    “catch u nerdists later” (obscure-ish reference)”

  • I normally don’t like it when people comment before listening, but I hope you took him to task for killing Captain Kirk. Because any time I see him in anything my first thought is always, “That’s the guy who killed Kirk.”

  • Damn, I kept hitting refresh this morning waiting for the new episode to upload before I left for work but to no avail. Sure I live in Chicago but I demand you wake up at 3am to appease your East Coast/Midwest listeners!