Malcolm McDowell Reveals The Legendary Musician Who Wanted To Take His Best Role

Malcolm McDowell says Mick Jagger wanted the role of Alex in A Clockwork Orange.

By TeeJay Small | Published

malcolm mcdowell mik jagger

Famed actor Malcolm McDowell revealed during an appearance at the Torino Film Festival in Italy that Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones originally wanted to portray Alex in A Clockwork Orange (via Variety). The film, directed by legendary auteur Stanley Kubrick, would of course go on to be one of Malcolm McDowell’s most iconic performances, and truly one of the most lauded films in Hollywood history. McDowell also spoke at length during the event about his decades-long friendship with Mick Jagger and the rest of The Rolling Stones as well as their shared admiration of John Lennon and The Beatles.

Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange

The 40th edition of the Torino Film Festival focused on music and its inextricable link to the power of film, in place of a traditional film screening, and centered around the theme of The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, as well as the two bands’ shared love of film. It also featured some rare unarchived footage of The Beatles performing and answering interview questions. Malcolm McDowell was in attendance as the guest of honor, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Kubrick masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, and explained how he and his longtime friend Mick Jagger each vied for the lead role.

“We were sitting in a window seat and talking because Jagger wanted to play Alex in A Clockwork Orange.” McDowell recounted. He continued, “Before Kubrick got hold of the property, Mick Jagger and the Stones wanted to do it! Well, I’d like to see that!” It’s hard to imagine what any other performance would have brought to the classic 1971 film, and even harder to imagine what the film would have looked like in the hands of any other director!

Mick Jagger

A Clockwork Orange centers around Malcolm McDowell’s Alex and his gang of miscreant youths, who engage in casual drug use and commit acts of ultra-violence. Thinking back, perhaps an old-school rock star from the mid-century such as Mick Jagger could relate to that kind of casual debauchery more than the average graduate of the LAMBDA drama school in London. But of course, the film goes on to display in a gripping performance that Alex becomes incarcerated and tortured through behavioral modification techniques, requiring a bit more range than the Satisfaction singer could likely provide.

As the night went on, Malcolm McDowell sat with a roundtable of other esteemed guests such as director David Greico and Italian singer Noemi, and delivered other notable anecdotes about Mick Jagger as well as Paul McCartney and other members of The Beatles, often noting their contributions to music and art, as well as cinema. Malcolm McDowell revealed that Paul McCartney was originally meant to compose the soundtrack to a lesser-known 1971 McDowell film, The Raging Moon, directed by Bryan Forbes, but McCartney never showed up to perform. McDowell quips that the film, which he says “Sank like a stone” would have been a massive hit had McCartney given it the good old “Can’t Buy Me Love” treatment.

Malcolm McDowell concluded the evening by lauding his long-time friend by recognizing Mick Jagger’s longevity in the entertainment business and marveling at the fact The Rolling Stones continue to tour today, well into their 80s. This is perhaps a feat that never could have been accomplished had Mick Jagger taken a few years off from the band to produce and star in the imagined alternate universe version of A Clockwork Orange, but the world may never know.