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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…