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British director Lindsay Anderson, who has had four films nominated for the Palme d’Or, with his schoolboy drama “If …” taking the prize in 1968, is returning to the Festival de Cannes in the form of Malcolm McDowell.
Anderson died in 1994, but he is vividly recalled in the Cannes Classics film “Never Apologize,” in which McDowell relates tall tales and anecdotes from his friend and colleague’s life.
“It’s good to come to Cannes if you’re In Competition or if you’re really proud of the film, as I am of this one. We were invited, and that’s an immense honor,” said McDowell, whose most recent Competition film was Karen Shakhnazarov’s “The Assassin of the Tsar” in 1991.
“Apologize” is directed by producer Mike Kaplan, who was last in Cannes in 1987 with Anderson’s final picture “The Whales of August,” starring Lillian Gish and Bette Davis. McDowell and Kaplan developed the new film from a stage production they created at the Edinburgh Arts Festival in 2003.
“I was in Scotland doing a film about Bobby Jones, the golfer, shooting at St. Andrews, when I got a call from the Edinburgh festival saying that the following year they were doing a retrospective of Lindsay’s films and would I come,” McDowell said. “On the spur of the moment, I said: ‘I’ll do more than that. I’ll do a show.’ “
Most of the year passed, and there were six weeks left when McDowell realized what he’d promised. With Kaplan as his collaborator and with the help of Karl Magee from Stirling University, where Anderson’s archives are kept, he studied the director’s letters and papers and put together “Apologize,” which later was presented at London’s National Theater.
Kaplan and McDowell have another film planned, a version of the Thomas Mann novella “Mario and the Magician” from a script by Abraham Polonski to be directed by Mike Hodges. McDowell will play the magician, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Mario. They are looking for financing and hope to shoot in Italy. “It’s a role Malcolm was born to play,” Kaplan said.
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