Malcolm Stewart is a licensed pilot, has a teenage daughter and is a citizen of three countries. Recently, he was honoured to be the only actor in three films at the prestigious 2009 Sundance Film Festival, "Moon" with Sam Rockwell, "Grace" a psychological thriller and "Helen" with Ashley Judd. To Millennium fans he will always be remembered for his appearance in 'Loin Like a Hunting Flame' and, most notably, for occupying the notorious position of inciting the civil unrest between the 'Owls' and 'Roosters' as the shadowy 'Gordon Johnston'. Malcolm took the time to speak to BacktoFrankBlack recently and we are indebted to him for his kindness and generosity.
BACKTOFRANKBLACK: You have made two appearances in Millennium, in 'Owls' and in 'Loin Like A Hunting Flame' and a number of appearances in Millennium's sister franchise, "The X-Files". How do you rate your time on both shows and do you have a particular preference with regards to what you gleaned the most satisfaction from working on?
MALCOLM STEWART: With all due respect to "Millennium" I enjoyed working on the X-Files from "literally" the first day of shooting. There was something different about the mood on the set, as if we were all wondering what the whole thing was about.
I remember Gillian being quite nervous and rightly so. She had done very little before X-Files and a lot was riding on her performance. David on the other hand had come from feature films and was complaining about how fast everything was. My favourite part was Dr. Sachs, had he not been killed by the crawly things I think he would have been an interesting character to explore.
BTFB: I know you have mentioned that you have never seen the second season episode of "Millennium" that you starred in, is this true of 'Loin Like a Hunting Flame' as well? Is this merely because of circumstance or because you tend not to revisit your work on screen?
MS: I never saw either episode of Millennium, in fact I have never seen one of the episodes of X-Files (the one after the pilot about Vampires) [the Season Two episode "3".] There are two reasons. Firstly, unless it is specifically written into your contract, you are not sent a copy. Even then, producers very often forget to honor it. Usually, it is just the stars that get a first look. The other reason is that when I was just starting out in New York doing soap operas and commercials I tended to watch everything I was in. The fact is, and not to sound arrogant, it became too difficult after a while or in some cases It just wasn't important to me.
With that being said there are some projects that come along where I have to see it and have a copy because of how I feel about it.
BTFB: Johnston's death scene was a very memorable part of 'Owls' and a classic hallmark of Morgan and Wong to depict such a scene against a gentle music track, in this case, America's "A Horse with No Name." I know Glen Morgan was frustrated by the amount of cuts that were demanded for that particular scene, could you tell us what you recall of filming and what we, as viewers, should have seen?
MS: As I have never seen it, I am not sure what was eventually aired by the network. I do know this: sometime after filming someone on the production staff informed me that the network thought the footage was too gruesome and realistic for prime time television and decided to cut it drastically. Here is what I do remember.
We shot in the middle of the night (par for the course with Millennium) and I spent a good deal of the night on my back pretending to be drowning from a hose stuck down my throat that was supposed to be gasoline. The crew and director were constantly worried that I was really in trouble which I was not.
I have always been comfortable under water or faking that sort of stuff...so I guess I "Sold" it well. I was once in a scene where this fellow had to drown me in a fish tank. I said look, "put my hands behind my back, push my head down into the tank and I will pretend I am drowning. When I run out of air I will squeeze your hand and you pull me up." It all went "swimmingly" fine except for the fact that I was able to do that for close to a minute and nobody told some young female production assistant who actually thought I was drowning...consequently, she became rather hysterical and ruined the first take.
BTFB: In the first scene you starred in, your character has the job of providing for the viewers all sorts of complicated info to fill them in on the mandate of the 'Owls' faction of the "Millennium Group" alongside Terry O'Quinn. Another actor explained to me that guest stars are rarely clued in as to what the bigger picture is with regards to the content of the episode they are in. Is this correct in all cases and do you ever find yourself wondering what on earth your character is talking about?
MS: The answer to this question is yes...sometimes, even when you read the whole script. But this is mostly in sci-fi. Actually, I do not remember that particular scene (too long ago) but I have remained friends with Terry O' Quinn. We guest starred together a few years ago on "Master's of Science Fiction"
BTFB: Looking at your career you have featured in an incredible number of genre productions including Battlestar Gallactica, The Bionic Woman, Stargate and countless more besides. Are you attracted to that particular type of role or is it attracted to you? Looking back over those roles are there any you are particularly proud of in terms of personal satisfaction with your performance?
MS: To be perfectly honest I think it has to do more with location. I live and work predominantly out of Vancouver, Canada although I do film in London, New York and LA occasionally. The fact is Sci-Fi is not a sure bet and generally not for one of the four major US networks so the producers look for shooting locations that are less expensive than the major centers. Consequently, I get offered these parts because I am located where they are shooting.
BTFB: I read recently that you were the only actor to star in three films at the prestigious 2009 Sundance Film Festival. "Moon" with Sam Rockwell, "Grace" a psychological thriller and "Helen" with Ashley Judd. That's a fantastic achievement, are you proud of your work in those films?
MS: Yes, I feel honoured to have enjoyed that distinction. Ironically, I had made a decision a couple of years ago to look for more interesting and different roles outside the mainstream film and television industry and in so doing almost turned down each one of the films that ended up at Sundance. "Grace" because of the subject matter and the initial script. "Helen" because of the type of role and "Moon" because of the size of the part. Ultimately, I did all three and was stunned at the result!
BTFB: You have had an incredibly full career to date, what can admirers of your work keep their eyes open for with regards to the continuing career of Malcolm Stewart?
MS: Who knows! However, l am enjoying writing for film and would like to go back to Broadway someday.
BTFB: And now for a little fun....
MALCOLM STEWART'S MILLENNIUM GROUP INITIATION TEST!
Heaven is... good health
People who know me think... I 'm fun to be around
My last meal... would be something I cooked served with a good wine
I must confess... I like expensive clothes
BTFB: Our thanks to you for taking the time to talk to us!
MS: Good luck and keep me posted.
Posted by Mark Ducker | Filed under Sarah-Jane Redmond
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