Malcolm McDowell is the man. No one can dispute that. So it’s no surprise that his return to the character of Dr. Loomis is one of the few highlights in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. Dread Central was on hand with a roundtable of journalists to hear the legendary actor spew his usual brand of wit and sarcasm.
Beware of spoilers …
Q: What is the appeal of horror movies?
Malcolm McDowell: I think people just love to be scared but know that they’re safe, really. Personally, I find them incredibly boring, but that’s just me. As an individual, I’m not a great fan of horror films but people love ‘em! These horror conventions, they’re just jam-packed with people who just love ‘em!
Q: Did being a part of these [Halloween] movies change your mind a little bit?
MM: No. [laughter] Listen, Rob’s a good director so that helps. But I haven’t seen this one and I hear it’s a bit different.
Q: Dr. Loomis is in a very different state in this one…
MM: Yes, I wanted to bring a bit of comedy to it. I got bored playing the other Loomis, so I completely changed the character arbitrarily. I just got bored.
Q: Was that not dictated by his success?
MM: It was dictated more by his near-death experience. I thought that if someone was this close to death from this great big bulging guy, I think you’d be pissed off. So I decided to play it that way just for fun. I have this wonderful actress, Mary… Whatever-Her-Name-Is playing this PR person. She was great, so we were able to improvise it and stuff like that. I don’t know if a lot of it made it into the film, probably not, but we had a lot of fun doing it.
Q: Did you watch the last Halloween?
MM: Yeah, I watched it once at the premiere. I’ll probably never watch it again. I never watch any of my films more than once, if there’s a premiere. If not, I never see them at all. I’d say there’s a good twenty films I’ve made I’ve never seen.
MM: I dunno.
I’ve had people come up to me and go, “We were in ‘blah-blah’ together” and I don’t even remember being in that movie. I’ve done way too many movies. [laughter] The good ones I remember.
Q: Have you seen Clockwork Orange more than once?
MM: Oh yeah, I remember that one.
Of course, I’ve seen that one more than once because it’s a classic. I have to go back and see that one every ten years because there’s some big event going on. So I’m invited to go, I sit there and it would be rude if I tip-toe out. People would go “What?!? He’s leaving!” That’s coming up again; I gotta sit and watch the damn thing again for its 40th Anniversary.
Q: Has it taken on new meaning over the years?
MM: It has for the audience. The kids, they love that film! I got lucky with that cause it’s a remarkable film. The brilliance of Burgess plus Kubrick! Last time I saw it was five years ago at the Egyptian Theater. I just got an e-mail saying they’re going to show it again, so I’ll probably go back. My daughter called me from college saying, “Dad, I’ve been to a few dorms and there are posters of you all over the place!” [laughter] She had no idea. She’d never seen the film.
Q: That’s kind of a horror movie…
MM: It is! But it’s horror of the mind, that kind of psychological torture, so it’s much more effective in a way. Because you know with blood and heads getting ripped off, it’s all just special effects. You can get away from that. But psychological horror, when you get in the head of a character, that can be very disquieting. And of course, the meaning of the movie has changed over the years. When it first opened, it was a big scandal. People couldn’t get past the violence at all when it opened. I mean, people were running out of the theater and throwing up in the lobby!
Q: That’s what I feel like today when I watch a movie like [Halloween II]…
MM: Yeah. Well, you shouldn’t be watching movies like this. How could you possibly write about them?
Q: I write about the people who make them.
MM: Rob, he’s certainly a great talent. He’s very interesting, and I think he tried to do something different with this film. You all have seen it, did he do something different?
Q: [pause] Um…yeah…
MM: Great! Well, what do you wanna see, the same boring Halloween again and again and again? Just put it on repeat! Just sit there watching the same damn movie!
Q: Did you think with the way the first one ended that you’d be able to come back for the second one?
MM: Of course! I’ll be back for the third one…even though I lost my head!
Q: They could do plastic surgery…
MM: Who cares? It’s not real!
Q: How did this experience differ with Rob the second time around? Did you have more of a rapport as friends?
MM: Well, yes. Absolutely. We’re good friends. He was just more harassed by the studio people, cutting days and pretty much driving him nuts. So I felt bad for him because he was under a lot of pressure. But he stuck to his guns and did what he wanted.
Q: So he had more pressure this time than on the last film?
MM: I think so. They kept cutting down on budgets and everything was going crazy. But that’s the film business. We’ve all seen it before.
Q: Do you consider yourself an American after living 30 years in this country?
MM: I don’t consider myself an American or an Englishman to be honest. I just consider myself a Californian. California feels like a country to me. I’m surprised they don’t ask you for a passport when you touch down in New York or something.
Q: You’re also shooting a part in The Book of Eli. What do you play in that?
MM: Yes, that’s interesting. I play this curator at the museum at the very end of the movie. It’s rather beautiful.
Q: Getting back to Halloween II, can you talk about your scene with Weird Al because that was one of the most fun parts of the movie.
MM: I’d never really heard of Weird Al. I didn’t know who he was, but I loved working with him! That whole scene where I’m getting pissed off was so perfect!
Q: I take it you got to improvise…
MM: The whole scene was improvised! It was just great, it was great fun working with him. We had so much fun doing that!
Q: And now you’re back on TV!
MM: Yeah, with Entourage coming back!
Q: Is there a difference?
MM: No. Same cameras, same sets. Just different food.
Q: How does that compare?
MM: Better! American TV, get a piece of it!
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