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Mick Jagger Wanted to Star in ‘A Clockwork Orange’

The rock icon almost played Alex DeLarge, movie fan's favorite Beethoven loving sociopath.

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Could you imagine anyone besides Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange? Mick Jagger did at one time.

The rock icon originally bought the rights to Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel for $500, only to sell it for a larger profit to producer Si Litvinoff, who had his own vision of the film where Jagger would star as Alex and the other members of The Rolling Stones would portray his “droogs.” There was also an understanding that The Beatles would compose the movie’s soundtrack.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr at one point even petitioned for Jagger to star as the Beethoven loving sociopath. The Fab Four wrote a letter to screenwriter Terry Southern in February 1968, begging that the singer be cast in the lead role, rather than 1966’s Blowup star David Hemming.

Southern was one of screenwriters for Kubrick’s 1968 satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The screenwriter was working on a big screen adaptation of Burgesses’ now classic dystopian novel when he received the letter.

Director John Schlesinger was initially attached to direct A Clockwork Orange, but had concerns about Jagger’s turbulent rock n’ roll lifestyle. He eventually opted out to instead direct 1968’s Midnight Cowboy. The film went on to win three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Jon Vought and Dustin Hoffman were also nominated for their acting roles.

Kubrick ultimately chose A Clockwork Orange as the follow up to his 1968 sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The reclusive director later cast McDowell as Alex after seeing the actor’s debut performance in Lindsey Anderson’s 1968 rebel yell if….

Even though Jagger never landed the lead role, the singer did appear in several films around that time and the years that followed, including 1970’s Ned Kelly and 1992’s Freejack. He also produced the 2014 James Brown bio Get on Up.

Although the Beatles never contributed to A Clockwork Orange’s soundtrack, their 1968 studio album Magical Mystery Tour can be seen as Alex wonders through his favorite record store. Other notable music titles that make an appearance in this scene include Pink Floyd’s 1970 studio album Atomic Heart Mother and the soundtrack to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

While it is fun to think about Mick and the rest of the Stones starring as the iconic anti-hero and his gang, perhaps what actually occurred was for the best. Given the controversy that followed the release of A Clockwork Orange, who knows how the iconic role would have affected Jagger’s career, and the history of his band as well. Not to mention the legacy and overall quality of the cult classic.

The letter signed by The Beatles sold on Paddle8 for between $18,000 and $25,000 in June 2016. That’s a lot of “polly,” for anyone who speaks Nadsat.

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