In 1979, A Clockwork Orange star Malcolm McDowell shed his bad-boy persona to star in the suspenseful time-travel thriller Time After Time, and in a new interview with ETonline, the 70-year-old Brit star explains why the project is one of his favorites -- and reveals that he was a bit surprised that he was chosen to play H.G. Wells, the hero with a heart of gold, as opposed to the film's legendary antagonist, Jack the Ripper.
"Strangely enough, no [I didn't have to fight for the role], and it's all credit to Nicholas Meyer, because he could easily have cast me to play Jack the Ripper," says McDowell with a nod to the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan director's feature-film debut choices. "And actually he cast the very best person to play that role in David Warner, who was absolutely brilliant and nobody could've been better than him."
A twist on Wells' classic novel The Time Machine, Time After Time finds McDowell as the famous author, pursuing Jack the Ripper into the future. After Wells discovers that his surgeon friend John Leslie Stevenson (David Warner) is the Ripper, Stevenson escapes from 1893 London to "present day" 1979 San Francisco in Wells' steampunk-style time machine. Wells follows him into the future, but the fish out of water must first adapt to the society of "tomorrow," from driving a horseless car to ordering fast food at McDonald's. As he struggles to adapt, he must race against time to protect his new, modern love interest (Mary Steenburgen) from the legendary killer.
"It's not a thriller about Jack the Ripper; it is actually a love story," explains McDowell, who found real-life love with co-star Steenburgen on the set and was married to her from 1980 to 1990. "It threw me for a loop. I wasn't expecting it, wasn't looking for it. [It's] one of those things that happened, and I always say this is one of my favorite movies because I got two wonderful children as a gift from this movie."