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Malcolm McDowell talks Tom Jones, his legendary career and his new film “Suing The Devil”

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Legendary actor Malcolm McDowell has certainly played his fair share of big screen bad guys. From Alex DeLarge in “A Clockwork Orange” to Dr. Tolian Soran in “Star Trek Generations,” McDowell has turned the cinematic villain into an art form. Perhaps none of his previous characters, however, could match the historically tainted image that his character in Tim Chey’s thriller “Suing the Devil” maintains. In the film, now available On Demand and Digital Download, McDowell plays the Prince of Darkness himself – Satan. When Luke O’Brien (Bart Bronson) decides he’s had enough and sues Satan for eight trillion dollars, the Devil must come to his defense with the help of the country’s greatest lawyers. McDowell was kind enough to sit down with IFC to chat about Tom Jones, his legendary film career, and what it’s like to play Satan.

IFC: We’ll start right in: Do you really think Satan prefers Tom Jones to KISS?

Malcolm McDowell: (Laughter) Well, I put that in because my eight-year-old went through a Tom Jones period. He loves Tom Jones and asked me if I could invite him over for tea. My thought was, well he’s Welsh and he’d probably prefer a nice pint of beer. (Laughter) Yeah, he loved Tom Jones so that’s why I put that in there. I could have said Elvis Presley or someone else, but I just thought it would be fun and so random. (Laughter) I got a chuckle out of it. I just threw it in. There are a lot of ad-libs there, actually, in that part. A LOT. I’d say maybe twenty-five percent I made it up.

IFC: It does seem like they gave you a lot of room to play.

MCDOWELL: It’s the kind of role that you can do anything. When he’s waving the bible at me, I’m pretending it’s his heart or something. I mean, whatever. You can go with anything on this kind of stuff. And it’s such a great role to do that you just make it your own and run with it basically. The thing is, I was there really to entertain the audience. That part had to be bigger than life. Believable? Yes, and it had to really keep the audience entertained. That was what my brief was playing that part. Simple as that.

IFC: It seems like Satan plays it very much like a rock star. I wondered is that more how you viewed him or how you believe Satan would view himself?

MCDOWELL: Yes, it’s the way Satan would love to, of course, appear himself. Sure. [SPOILER REDACTED] Bigger than life. I had to inject a little more in it than normally I would as far as playing a naturalistic sort of part.

IFC: Is that one of the things that first attracted you to the project? The idea that you could really spread your wings a little?

MCDOWELL: Yeah, I could really go for it. You know? Sometimes it’s great to just really go for it. And this is one of those parts. You can’t hold back. You can’t think of the subtleties of playing. You just have to get out and really bare it all and hopefully you don’t fall off the plank. And if you do, hey, pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and start all over again.

IFC: “Suing the Devil” is also a highly religious film. Would you consider yourself a religious person?

MCDOWELL: It is. As for me, I would say that I’m a believer, for sure. I certainly don’t think we are the highest power on the planet.

IFC: Do you think that influences your work and your performances?

MCDOWELL: No. No. It doesn’t in any way, shape, or form. I’m a professional actor. If that were the case, I would never play a murderer or anyone that was immoral. That’s not my call. An actor cannot be a censor. I’m there to interpret. And I don’t have a personal view on the stuff. I don’t make judgments on the characters I play at all. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to play them if I did.

IFC: Yeah, the film doesn’t seem to hammer you over the head with the religious aspects of it.

MCDOWELL: You’re right. Of course it is a very religious film. At the end of the day, that’s their audience, but I think it’s a crossover because I think anybody can enjoy this film.

IFC: You got to slap a lot of people in the film. Did that feel good?

MCDOWELL: (Laughter) Yeah, sure. Why not? (Laughter)

IFC: You’ve been in so many great films in so many genres. Is there anything you particularly want to do next?

MCDOWELL: No, there isn’t because, honestly, you can only take what you’re offered and it’s best not to jump ahead. Otherwise you’re going to be disappointed and disillusioned. I just take it as it comes and if I’m not offered something, there’s always a reason, and usually it’s a pretty good one. I’m not worried about it. You know, I’ve had an incredible career and I’m blessed. Yeah, it’s been peaks and valleys, but when you start off with “If…,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “O Lucky Man!” there’s only one place to go from there. I’m very happy. Very happy.

You can see Malcolm McDowell playing Satan in “Suing the Devil” On Demand and Digital Download now.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.