For most of the year on Heroes, Linderman has just been a name bandied about to scare people. You wouldn’t want to be sent to see Linderman. When they finally showed his face, they picked one of the ultimate movie villains to live up to the legacy. Malcolm McDowell plays Linderman like a gentleman, so you just know he could snap at any time. He’s also playing Dr. Loomis in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake, so maybe catching Michael Myers will make up for orchestrating the apocalypse.
CraveOnline: How did it feel to play someone whose presence had loomed since the beginning?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Well, it made my job actually much easier. Of course they’d all been talking about this character and I didn’t really know until Adrian actually told me that he’d even had sort of phone calls with me and nobody on the other line of course and they didn’t even know who was going to play the part at the time. But you’re right, I have had my fair share of villains and this is one of the really good ones.
CraveOnline: Do you think he’s evil or just misunderstood?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: I never really get into that sort of definition of characters. I like them all. I supposed you could make the case for Hitler being misunderstood, couldn’t you really? But the fact is that Linderman is such a fabulous part for an actor to do that really I had to do no acting at all. It was so well written, I think the show is really well written. Although I must say as a viewer, it’s sort of beautifully insane and you’re always on the edge of your seat but I haven’t a clue what’s going on. Although I must admit, it’s so compelling, it’s sort of déjà vu, it’s sort of like drugs or something. It’s an amazing show and they do such a great job, and I can say that because I’ve been on the inside now. Of course the regular cast members, they know all about it and I think they’ve got honestly one of the best jobs in television.
CraveOnline: His power is healing, so why do you think he wants to kill so many people?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Well, the man is a healer. He’s obviously got a wonderful side to him. He’s wonderful with children, wonderful with pets. What more can I say about him? He’s the life and soul of a party. He tells a good joke. He’s a delightful man, and the kind of person that would be a very fine uncle to your children. But, having said that, there is a side to him, which is a little bit dark. He has this power thing, and he feels that – and I’m not saying that I feel that – the world is in such a state, and that the human race is so decadent and out of control, that he thinks the answer to that is starting again. It’s obviously a strange way of going about things but, there are other people on this planet, at the moment, that I’d say think the same unfortunately, and they’re dangerous. Linderman must have had quite an unhappy childhood, for him to have taken it that far. But, I don’t know. I have to leave a big question mark open because I’m not allowed to say anything about what happens.
CraveOnline: Were you following the show before you got the call?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: To be honest, no. I wasn’t following it. I don’t watch that much TV but when it was coming up, of course I turned in. And they sent me the pilot which is really a wonderful show. I enjoyed it very much and as soon as I read it, and my son also said, "Dad, it’s one of the great shows on television. What rock have you been hiding under?" So that was it. The young guys, they know what’s what.
CraveOnline: You’ve played so many great villains, could there be a little villain inside you?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Well, I think that any part that you play, of course there’s always a little bit of you. The truth is, of course one has a bit of the devil in one, doesn’t one? Doesn’t everyone? It’s just that they pay me to have fun with it so of course I do it and I’m happy to do it. Look, I don’t only play the baddies. 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. But all the well known ones I suppose are on the heavy side but listen, I enjoy it. I enjoy it very much. I think the word relish comes to mind in terms of this part particularly, and these wonderful scenes with Adrian. We have such a ball together. I’m going to talk for him as well, he only can say whatever he wants. I know I had a great time. It was a pleasure.
CraveOnline: Does Linderman have a history with Nathan’s father?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: I think from what I understand, actually, and I think I can say this, I knew his father quite well.
CraveOnline: Will he be around for a while? How many are you signed for?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Well, if I told you how many I’m doing, then it would probably give it away, so I better not say anything about that. But, suffice to say that I’m doing a few of these and I’m doing other work too. So, I’ll go in and out, as required, as needed.
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “You were playing Rupert Murdoch, right?” I’ve heard that about at least a half a dozen characters I’ve played. And, the answer is no, I have nothing to do with Rupert Murdoch whatsoever. I think the writers look to the headlines for inspiration, quite rightly, because they are mirroring what is going on in our society. They’re using it in a fictional way, and therefore, in a sort of a second hand way, we’re getting handed down these characters that are vaguely in the headlines, or something. I think that’s what happens, and it’s a little confusing, but I don’t think they’re ever meant to be a copy of. They could be inspired by events, or something, but that’s about it. As far as the actor working on the part, that’s neither here nor there. You’re working on the part, as written. At least, that’s the way I work. I mean everyone works in different ways, of course, but you can only take it as far as it’s drawn in the script.
CraveOnline: You’ve done a lot of sci-fi, like Star Trek, Clockwork Orange and Time After Time. What attracts you to this genre?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Well, to be honest with you, it’s not so much that I’m attracted to them, but I get asked to do them. You’re only as good as what they ask you to do. And, I’m very lucky that I was asked to do Heroes because, as I’ve said before, it’s a gift of a role. It’s really a wonderful part. And same with Loomis. I’ve been very lucky, through the years, to get a few good parts, here and there, amongst the crap. Let’s face it, there’s quite a lot of crap out there, too. So, the odd little pearl that comes my way, you seize on it and you say thank you very much. It was great fun, getting away with doing old Kirk in. I think he’d had a good run, anyway, and it was time to move on. So, that was fun. And, Time After Time was a beautiful film and I got two beautiful children out of that particular show, so I’m very fond of that one. That’s no fiction for me. And, so there you go. Life goes on.
CraveOnline: Are you involved with any of the extra online content for Heroes?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Well, I’m not really savvy to all that, so I can tell you that it doesn’t make one bit of difference to me because I’ve never been online with it, or anything, for that matter. I’m sure Adrian is up to date with all these things, and he knows all these gizmos and things. But, I know that it’s huge online. And, I understand that the French, even though they have their election and all the rest of it, even download these shows. They can pay $1.99, or whatever it is, and get it on iTunes, which is amazing to me. It’s just amazing how different the business is. I think the online part of it is very important. It was very important because I went to do ADR and was asked if I would go step next door and record on a video and talk about something, where I had no idea what the hell I was talking about, actually. It was something to do with the show, which I really didn’t know much about, but I sort of made it up as I went along. It was kind of fun doing it. And, the possibilities with this are endless, aren’t they?
CraveOnline: How does Linderman compare to Loomis in the Halloween remake?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Well, it’s completely different because Loomis is a psychoanalyst of some note I might add, although God knows, let’s face it, for a man who’s got a patient like Michael Meyers and he can’t do anything to control him or cure him in the 17 years, God knows how good of a doctor he really is. But no, he’s a well meaning man whereas of course Linderman is rather, I suppose, you would have to say arch. Fascinating. I mean, he’s running a big empire like any of these people, chairman of the boards of multi-national companies. They all have sort of one thing in common, don’t they? We’ve seen the demise, in England, of this man, this poor man who ran BP and all that. I don’t know why I’m rambling on to you about that. Anyway, I hope that answers your question. They’re completely different. One, I suppose to put it in black and white terms, one is a good guy and one is a bad guy.
CraveOnline: Are you paying homage to Donald Pleasence, or doing something completely different?
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: No, I have to tell you that I’ve never seen Halloween 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7. I must be one of the only people on the planet, never to have seen any of the films, and I’m so glad because I asked the director, Rob Zombie, who is a wonderful director, if he thought I should see them, and he said, “No, better not.” And, of course, I knew Donald Pleasence, and a brilliant actor he was, with that wonderful, sinister thing of his, and I could imagine him playing Loomis with that sinister thing he has. But, it’s a new look. It’s a re-invention of it. My Loomis is completely different, I presume. So, I guess there will be some people that will be sort of disappointed, if they think I’m just going to copy him because I’m not.
CraveOnline: There were actually eight before this one.
MALCOLM MCDOWELL: Eight? Well I’m obviously talking to an expert. Anyway, I’ve signed for three. How about that? They obviously think it’s going to be a big hit.