He won great acclaim (nominated for a Golden Globe, as well as a National Society of Film Critics nomination, and a New York Film Critics Circle nomination in the Best Actor category) as Alex De Large, a young hoodlum brainwashed by the British government in a dystopian future. (1973), which was inspired by Mc Dowell's experience working as a coffee salesman, and Britannia Hospital (1982). He has often portrayed antagonists, later remarking upon his career playing film villains: "I suppose I'm primarily known for that but in fact, that would only be half of my career if I was to top it all up".
Mc Dowell regularly turned up on British television productions in the 1970s in adaptations of theatre classics, one example being with Laurence Olivier in The Collection (1976), as part of the series Laurence Olivier Presents. In his biography Anthony Burgess: A Life, author Roger Lewis commented on Mc Dowell's later career: "his pretty-boy looks faded and he was condemned to playing villains in straight-to-video films that turn up on Channel 5". In 1983, he starred in Get Crazy as Reggie Wanker, a parody of Mick Jagger.
His family later moved to Bridlington, since his father was stationed at the nearby RAF Carnaby with the Royal Air Force.
He grew up in Liverpool and worked in Planters nut factory in Aintree and in his father's pub in Burscough, Lancashire.
Before being thrown into a room with “Mozart in the Jungle” actors Malcolm Mc Dowell and Bernadette Peters, we decided to do some research. Surely they, over their long careers, worked on the same film, or maybe with the same director, some actor? One is a British bad boy, still best known for “A Clockwork Orange.” The other is a Broadway god and Stephen Sondheim muse. The closest we could get was they both worked with Dom De Luise: Peters in Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie,” Mc Dowell in a forgotten (and cheap-looking) 1990 animated film called “Happily Ever After.” And since it was a toon, Mc Dowell and De Luise probably never shared the same booth. (He cites a production of “Aladdin” as one.) Unlike Peters, he abandoned it.The Horsforth-born Englishman and his blonde ladylove will impressively celebrate 26 years of marriage this Sunday.Malcolm's director son Charlie, 34, (with ex-wife #2 Mary Steenburgen) was the tender age of 12 when he discovered his father starred in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 dystopian crime flick at a video rental store.'And he goes, "Dad, you're in the porno section! " I went, "Yeah, it's pretty cool." It is what it is.' The American Satan actor continued: 'It was great fun working with Stanley, and I really loved him. And it opened many doors for me.'And the LAMDA alum's 36-year-old daughter Lilly (with ex-wife #2 Mary Steenburgen) welcomed his first granddaughter Clementine in 2012.“Essentially you had four plays in your head every week at the same, time: one you were trying to forget, one you were performing, one you were working on, and on you were just peeking at,” he recalls. The poor people who came to see these plays basically paid for my drama school,” Mc Dowell explains.He didn’t get the job because he was good, he says. As you can imagine, Mc Dowell quickly burned out on the grind of constant performing.For help, he sought out “this old hammy actor,” who told him to avoid the speeches everyone does.“He gave me the prologue to ‘Henry VIII,’ which I don’t think Shakespeare wrote. Indeed, Mc Dowell presently has over 200 film credits on his résumé. I finally said, ‘I need to stop doing these fakakta films.’ Then I did ‘Pennies from Heaven.’ That was not fakakta.I don’t think too many people agree with me.” (We failed to inquire whether he’s one of those who doubts whether William Shakespeare wrote the works of William Shakespeare, or if he means the play’s credited cowriter John Fletcher deserves most of the credit.) But starting in 1965, he was a member of the RSC. “As soon as I got into the Royal Shakespeare Company, I realized what it was, which was basically drunken gambling and whoring,” he remembers. I was always trying to get out of things.” He met, for the first time, with the company’s head, the illustrious Peter Hall, and asked what kinds of roles were coming his way. Bernadette Peters, meanwhile, only has just over 20. A quarter of those film titles hail from the ’70s, when she acted with Burt Reynolds twice (“The Longest Yard” and, again “Silent Movie,” in which they never share the screen), and did oddball b-movies, like “Vigilante Force,” starring Kris Kristofferson and Jan-Michael Vincent. I realized from then on out that I wanted to do movie that were actually written well, or where the role was incredible.the 12th greatest British film of the 20th century.Mc Dowell's next roles were in Figures in a Landscape (1970) and The Raging Moon (1971). caught the attention of Stanley Kubrick, who cast Mc Dowell as the lead in A Clockwork Orange (1971), adapted from the novel by Anthony Burgess.All he could offer was the Duke of Clarence in “Richard III.” “I went, ‘Twelve lines? By the ’80s she was doing classier work, like “Annie” and “Pennies from Heaven.” Why the unusual early period, then? I didn’t want to do it just to do it.”“Pennies from Heaven” wasn’t a box office success in 1981, though it’s perhaps the greatest film she’s ever been in: Based on Dennis Potter’s English TV movie from 1978 (which starred Bob Hoskins), it’s a brilliantly bleak downer about desperate, often unlikable characters (most of all our hero, played by Steve Martin) struggling through the Depression, occasionally disappearing into lavish (and lovely) song-and-dance numbers.“The only problem with that movie is it was Steve’s next big film after ‘The Jerk,’ and they tried to promote it as a comedy,” Peters recalls. Before the writer died in 1994, he wrote a strange diptych, which were to star the same actor in the leads. Long story short, the roles went to Albert Finney.“I did not like them,” he says, frankly.’ He said, ‘Yes, but he’s a very important brother of the king. “They brought it out at Christmas and tried to promote it as a comedy. ’”And with that we luck into a less tenuous connection between the actors: Malcolm Mc Dowell was almost — almost! “They were the last things he wrote, and he wrote them when he was on a morphine drip.