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Reunited: The Real World Vegas

How Malcolm McDowell came gunning for Hiro

EW talks with the legendary Malcolm McDowell about how he became the evil Mr. Linderman on ”Heroes” — and why Masi Oka had better watch his back

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Chris Haston

When the producers of Heroes asked celebrated British actor Malcolm McDowell to play the show’s much-feared but never-seen villain, underworld figure Mr. Linderman, the man who was once Caligula felt inclined to say nay, as he was prepping to shoot Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween. Then he asked his son, budding film director Charlie, for advice. ”He said, ‘Are you kidding?! It’s Heroes! You gotta do it!”’ Good calls all around: McDowell’s iconic profile made Linderman’s March 5 debut even more powerful. ”After 17 episodes of building this guy up, we knew we needed an actor with a certain weight,” says executive producer Tim Kring. ”And Malcolm certainly has weight.”

He’s also no stranger to playing ruthless people. McDowell, 63, is best known for sporting fishhook eyelashes and dishing out ultraviolence in A Clockwork Orange. ”I do enjoy playing extreme people — mostly because they’re nothing like me,” says McDowell, who’ll haunt Heroes for at least three episodes this season. (Kring wants him to stick around longer.) When the series returns on April 23, McDowell says Linderman will reveal himself to be not just a mere gangster, but ”the mastermind behind all the shenanigans that are going on,” including the political machinations of Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) and the efforts of Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) to avert New York’s nuclear incineration. McDowell’s clearly pumped; during this interview, he excitedly let out a number of spoilers, from the ominous significance of the April 23 episode’s title (”.07%”) to this: ”The twist about Linderman is that he also has a power, which is — oh, I should probably hold back.” (As will we.)

McDowell adds that he can’t wait to film scenes for the May 21 season finale — and perhaps share screen time with Oka’s time-warping, Star Trek-loving supergeek. ”He’s just marvelous, isn’t he?” gushes the converted fanboy, before turning Linderman-eeeevil. ”I can’t wait to ask him for my sword back. Personally.”