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[Interview] Malcolm McDowell Talks About The “Unpretentious Fun” Of ‘Silent Night’, Revisiting Stanley Kubrick

After hitting theaters last Friday, Silent Night is now available everywhere as a Blu-ray/DVD (or just as DVD if that’s the way you like it). The film, directed by Steven C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion, Under the Bed, The Aggression Scale), is a loose remake of the horror classic Silent Night, Deadly Night. The cast includes Malcolm McDowell (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, A Clockwork Orange), Jaime King (Sin City, My Bloody Valentine 3D), Donal Logue (Shark Night 3D, Blade), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow), Brendan Fehr (Final Destination, X-Men First Class), and Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World).

I recently hopped on the phone with McDowell and we talked about his approach to the role and working with director Steven C. Miller. We also spoke about his classic collaboration with Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange.

In the film, “McDowell and King star as a small-town sheriff and deputy on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus terrorizing their community on Christmas Eve. But with the streets full of Santas for the annual Christmas parade, the killer is hiding in plain sight. He’s made his list, checked it twice, and the naughty are going to pay with their lives.

Head inside to check out the interview!

When you signed on for this had you seen the original ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’?

No, no. I hadn’t seen it. I hadn’t even heard of it to be honest and then I was brought up to speed on it. And people were very angry at the time because the filmmakers had taken the beloved figure of Santa Claus and turned him into a serial killer who scared the bejeezus out of the poor children, you know? And I see their point, but I don’t think there’s one word of protest this time. The world has moved on in the past 25 years [from the controversy].

Your character is so convinced that he’s right about everything, it’s almost comical.

Exactly. You’ve hit it. That’s exactly what I intended. Here he is, the Sheriff of this small town in Wisconsin, and what he’s been doing for the past 25 or 30 years is writing parking tickets and giving citations to the odd drunk. So it’s a fun thing to poke at, Sheriffs in small towns are God almighty and answer to no one. There’s a little bit of fun to be had there, and of course he’s so self conscious about being right. As he says, “this is where our training kicks in.” Oh yeah? Training for what?

Many of your scenes are with Jaime King. Can you talk about establishing the dynamic between your characters?

Of course he thinks that, because she’s a rookie, she doesn’t know her ass from her elbow. And he gets irritated by her common sense ideas that actually make sense, but he’s got his theory and he wants to play it out. Police often decide on a suspect and are blind to anything else.

How was it working with [director] Steven C. Miller?

He did a terrific job directing the movie. It’s a very unpretentious movie, it is what it is. It’s a lot of fun and the idea was to scare the audience and make them smile, and I think he pulled that off. I think he did well in that respect. This is entertainment, it’s not an exercise in intellectual chops. It’s to sit there, be entertained and have a good laugh.

There’s a new Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA, and a lot of people are re-examining his work. What are your thoughts now when you look back on ‘A Clockwork Orange’? Have your thoughts on it changed over the years?

The perception of it has of course changed greatly in the past 40 or so years. But the film is a brilliant piece of work. It’s lasted and I think it’s one of Stanley’s most current films, it stands the test of time. But a lot of his work stands the test of time. But I think it’s great that they’ve done the exhibition. I haven’t had a chance to see it but I hear it’s beautiful. These beautiful art pieces basically arranged by a set designer. And Kubrick, you know, didn’t throw anything away. There’s barns on his property full of this stuff.



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