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Helen Mirren on ‘Caligula’: McDowell could have been nominated for an Oscar It was 30 years ago that the controversial movie “Caligula” actually had the chance to flicker in a moviehouse.

“Caligula” gets a footnote in movie history because it was originally conceived as a prestigious sword and sandal epic about the flawed emperor written by high-brow literary dude Gore Vidal – except the film was produced by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione which meant it arrived with a baggage load of X-rated sex scenes, some unbeknown to the actors starring in the film which included Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren. Mirren played the courtesan who gives birth to the mad emperor portrayed by McDowell.

Speaking with Movieline on her work with the film, Mirren exclaims “I think in any other kind of movie, he (McDowell) probably would have been nominated for an Oscar.” She also confesses to being naïve at the time she took the role.

“I did the commentary for the DVD recently,” continues the Oscar-winning actress, “You know, I wish in a sense someone could come along and re-cut Caligula — re-cut it and maybe shoot just a tiny little bit of extra scenes, and then I think you’d have a really great movie about ancient Rome. I think Malcolm was spectacular in the role of Caligula.”

But the biggest flaw in the film per Mirren wasn’t the number of sex scenes, rather the motion of the ocean, err, the rhythm.

“It’s just relentlessly sex and violence, sex and violence, sex and violence. The rhythm needed to be calibrated”

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