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The Untold Truth Of John Malkovich

Almost as well known for his eccentricities as he is for his acting, John Malkovich has led a fascinating life both on and off the screen. His talent as an actor is undeniable, and he's played characters as varied as Biff Loman in "Death of a Salesman" and Charles Talleyrand in "Napoleon". His break came when he played the devious Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont in "Dangerous Liaisons," a role that could have typecast him as a villain. Fortunately, he was able to break way from any preconceived notions by his talent and his range in other roles. 

Regardless of his skill as an actor, Malkovich is also well known for his odd personality and charisma. The very uniqueness of him led director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman to create the cult masterpiece "Being John Malkovich," a film in which the very premise is the desire for an assortment of oddballs to briefly live their lives as the famous actor. While every actor has their quirks, it would take some doing to match some of the things Malkovich has done. Here is the untold truth of John Malkovich.

He starred in a movie that won't be released until 2115

In 2015, John Malkovich teamed up with director Robert Rodriguez ("Alita: Battle Angel," "Desperado") to make a short film based on a story he had written. The film's synopsis has not been released, but it stars Malkovich as the main character, Shuya Chang as a supporting character, and Marko Zaror as the antagonist. The film, titled "100 Years," has been described by Rodriguez as "very elegant and emotionally charged" (via People). For fans of both the star and the director, this is a collaboration that certainly sounds intriguing.

The catch? The film, advertised as "The Movie You Will Never See," will not be released until November 18, 2115, 100 years after it was filmed. The project was a collaboration with Louis XIII Cognac, a drink that's famous for each bottle being aged 100 years. In order to make sure that nobody sees the film, it has been locked away in a time-locked, fail-proof safe, which is set to only open on the day of the film's official release. One thousand guests will be invited to the premiere, including whoever Malkovich and Rodriguez decide to bequeath their tickets to, as both will presumably be dead at the time of the film's release.

Malkovich hasn't voted in 50 years

Though Hollywood is mostly known as a liberal city, a number of actors with conservative beliefs will either make their support of a conservative candidate public or keep their beliefs private. With John Malkovich, it's even more of an enigma. In an interview with The Guardian, Malkovich said that he hasn't voted in an election ever since "George McGovern was defeated by Richard Nixon in 1972." Presumably because he voted for McGovern, it would seem fair to assume that he held liberal political beliefs, at least at that time. "If politics had anything to do with the solving of problems," he told The Guardian, "then you could count me in."

Malkovich has also expressed conservative beliefs over the years, to the extent that some of his comments have gotten him in trouble. For example, he once commented that he would like to shoot Scottish Labour MP George Galloway after he expressed criticism for the U.S. invasion of Iraq (per The Guardian). William Hootkins, an actor who co-starred with Malkovich in the BBC's production of "Rocket to the Moon," told The Telegraph, "He's so Right-wing you have to wonder if he's kidding." In addition to his support of war, the Telegraph piece revealed he is also so pro-death penalty that he held a champagne party on the day that serial killer John Wayne Gacy was executed.

He lost his life savings in 2008 to Bernie Madoff

In 2008, famous stock broker Bernie Madoff was arrested for running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in US history. This scheme caused investors to lose a staggering $64.8 billion (via Reuters). As it turns out, one of the investors who lost everything was John Malkovich.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Malkovich recounted finding out that his life savings was gone. "I saw a picture of Bernie Madoff in handcuffs and said to my wife, 'I'm going to go to the corner to get a packet of cigarettes. I think we have a little problem with Madoff.'" Though Malkovich doesn't remember offhand how many millions he lost, he was able to build his savings back up by changing his lifestyle. In addition to no longer paying for all of his friends when he went out, he also stopped producing projects that were losing him money. It was during this time that he also dedicated himself to working constantly, and focused on paying gigs instead of having the luxury of taking less for certain roles. 

He reiterated that while angry for "the first couple of days," he still felt lucky that he had a reliable stream of work.

Someone once gave Malkovich a script handwritten in blood

John Malkovich was living in France when one of the most bizarre instances in his life happened. While he was sitting in his garden, a woman jumped over the fence and handed him a gift. The gift turned out to be a script that she had written, and according to Malkovich in an interview with NME, the plot was about a woman who murders an American actor. The most chilling detail is that the script was apparently written in blood.

While the very fact that he received a script written in blood is shocking, it is also surprising that he actually took the time to read some of it. In the same interview, Malkovich described the script's print, saying, "It was scrawled with ... maybe a very sharp knitting needle." He read enough of the screenplay to understand the plot but didn't bother finishing it, admitting, "It was quite terrifying at the time."

He went on an all Jell-O diet as a teenager

When John Malkovich was a teenager, he had a bit of an issue with his weight. In an interview on "Conan," the actor revealed to host Conan O'Brien that when he was 13 years old he was 6 feet, one inch tall and 230 pounds. At that point, he decided that he wanted to lose some weight, and went on an extreme low-calorie diet. This diet was nothing more than a bowl of Jell-O every day. For variety, he would eat Jell-O of different colors.

By eating only around 270 calories every day, he managed to lose 70 pounds in 4 months. When asked by O'Brien how he was able to maintain this diet without losing his mind, Malkovich stated that the different colors helped maintain variety. He did eventually start putting fruit in the Jell-O, which added much-needed nutrition to this calorie-deficient diet. When asked by co-host Andy Richter why his parents would allow him to do this, Malkovich said that came from an odd family and that he doesn't even think they noticed. 

It should go without saying, but do not try this diet at home.

Malkovich once worked as a school bus driver

Every actor has to start somewhere, and many have worked a number of odd jobs before their big break. Malkovich is no exception, and — before fame he worked in office supplies sales work and as a weed puller. While these jobs seem fairly run of the mill, there was another job of his that stood out. 

In an interview with "Today," Malkovich told host Tamron Hall that the one job he really enjoyed was when he worked as a school bus driver for Schechter Day School. This school, located in Northbrook, Illinois, is a Jewish day school. During the interview Hall suggested, "You must have been a fascinating driver," to which Malkovich replied, "The students didn't agree." While the students may not have loved Malkovich as a driver, the school was thrilled to hear that driving for them was one of his favorite jobs. A month after the interview aired, the school posted a video on YouTube thanking him for the kind words and inviting him to come back any time. They even offered to buy him ice cream.

He saved someone's life

The word "hero" gets thrown around a lot, but John Malkovich does have an instance of performing something truly heroic. As reported by The Toronto Sun in 2013, 77-year-old Jim Walpole went out for a walk and accidentally fell into the scaffolding near a hotel, suffering a throat injury on the way down. Walpole yelled while losing a significant amount of blood, and if someone hadn't come to his aid quickly, his chances for survival would have been slim.

Malkovich just happened to have been standing by the side of the hotel smoking a cigarette when he saw what happened. Rushing to Walpole's aid, Malkovich applied pressure to the injury and was working to stop the bleeding while more people came to the scene. Eventually, three people were working to save the man's life, with a 911 operator guiding them through what to do. Walpole, when the paramedics picked him up, asked Malkovich for his name. "My name is John," the actor replied, "and you are going to be all right."

As it turns out, Walpole had no idea who Malkovich was, but he was grateful that he saved his life. When asked about it later, Malkovich chose not to comment on the incident.

Malkovich once confronted a mugger with a butcher knife

When not saving lives, John Malkovich is apparently not averse to rushing into other kinds of danger when the moment arises. In an interview on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in 2013 (via Hollywood.com), Malkovich described an incident in which he saw a mugger rush over and steal someone's purse. Rather than stay safe and let the incident slide, Malkovich and a friend rushed after the man into a park. Unfortunately, he was not able to retrieve the purse, as the mugger handed it off to "an associate," as Malkovich put it.

The story could have ended there, but the mugger had some choice words for Malkovich, which he wasn't too thrilled with. Strangely, because he had on a nice suit, he decided to go back to his apartment and change clothes, in addition to grabbing a butcher knife. After some hunting, he managed to track down the mugger. "I asked him if he wanted to carry on the discourse," Malkovich explained. "He declined and life went on." Thankfully the incident ended there, but the message is clear: Don't mess with John Malkovich.

He's done work in the fashion industry for years

In 2017, John Malkovich partnered with Squarespace to release a line of luxury clothing through his (now defunct) website, JohnMalkovich.com. The line included long sleeve shirts, chinos, and cardigans. According to an article by The Observer, this was the third time that Malkovich dived into the world of fashion, having had previous collaborations with Mrs. Mudd in 2002 and with Technobohemain in 2010.

His love of fashion has been a constant through his life. In college he studied costuming, and later he worked with Comme des Garcons in the '80s. He also did work writing and directing three fashion-related films for Bella Freud. When he went more public with selling his own designs, he opted not to do anything for the runway and focused on selling his clothes directly, as he viewed the runway as "goofy." As opposed to acting, what appeals to Malkovich about fashion is how personal it is. "When you're an actor, you're a figure in someone else's dream," he told The Observer. He went on to add, "With designing, it's another form of self-expression, but it's all yours."

He suggested Tom Cruise to replace him in Being John Malkovich

For years, Charlie Kaufman's script for what became the 1999 cult classic "Being John Malkovich" floated around Hollywood, and for Kaufman there was no other choice for the title role than Malkovich. According to NME, Kaufman said that Malkovich had a "quality of unknowability" that made him perfect for the film, something that baffled Malkovich when he heard about it. "I don't think anybody is a fixed, knowable thing," Malkovich said. "I get what Charlie is saying, and I think Charlie is incredibly clever, but I don't really think anyone is knowable if I'm unknowable."

When he finally did see the script, however, Malkovich had other ideas for the film. First of all, he wanted to direct the film himself. Second, rather than being the star of the film, he thought it should be called "Being Tom Cruise" and star Cruise as the titular actor. Thankfully, Kaufman was adamant about not changing his script and having Spike Jonze signed on as the director.

He has his own brand of wines

As if acting, writing, directing, and fashion weren't time-consuming enough, John Malkovich has also dived into the wine business. Something of a late bloomer, Malkovich admitted in an interview with Wine Spectator that he never even heard about wine when he was growing up in Illinois, and didn't have a drink until he tried Cognac when he was 33. When he was working in Paris and London in his 40s he started getting more interested in wines, eventually starting his own wine label with his partner Nicoletta Peyran. His label, Les Quelles de la Coste, has limited distribution in the United States.

In addition to making wine, Malkovich is also a fan of wine history. When he heard the story of Hardy Rodenstock, a man who had faked bottles of Thomas Jefferson's wines for an auction at Christie's, he tried unsuccessfully to buy the film rights to the story. In the same interview he admitted to having a fondness for con artists, claiming his grandfather was one of the biggest he knew. He has so much respect for Rodenstock, saying, "I would have loved to hire him as my winemaker."

Malkovich almost played The Vulture in Sam Raimi's canceled Spider-Man 4

As a huge fan of John Malkovich, director Sam Raimi tried twice to get him cast in his "Spider-Man" films. In 2000 Malkovich was offered the role of the Green Goblin, which he passed on. As he told Empire (via IGN), "It's not really my genre particularly, and there were scheduling difficulties and what they offered wasn't in any way an inducement for me to do it." An interesting choice, but given Willem Dafoe's iconic performance in the role, it's hard to deny it's for the best that he passed. 

After the divisive "Spider-Man 3," Raimi again tried to cast Malkovich, this time in his aborted follow-up "Spider-Man 4." During its troubled pre-production Malkovich was offered the role of The Vulture, and this time he accepted (per Geek Tyrant). Unfortunately, Raimi and Sony Pictures had major disagreements about the script, as Raimi was determined to keep The Vulture as the main villain. "Spider-Man 4" was canceled, and when Sony finally did make a Spider-Man film with The Vulture, he was played by Michael Keaton in the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry "Spider-Man: Homecoming." 

He hates his own voice

Nearly as famous for vocal cadence and delivery as he is for his appearance, it might come as a bit of a surprise that apparently John Malkovich hates the sound of his own voice. In a 2013 interview on "Conan," Malkovich said that he tries to never hear his voice, and likens the sound of it to someone speaking while under "heavy narcotics for years and years and years." He says that he tries to never watch his own performances and that if he were to watch even that very same interview with Conan, he would feel compelled to cover his ears.

The next year, while on "Today," Malkovich again reiterated that he doesn't like to hear himself talk. Ironically, that interview took place while he was promoting his voice work on the film "Penguins of Madagascar." It seems strange that someone with such a unique, famous voice would feel so strongly negative about his own, but as he pointed out to Conan O'Brien, most people aren't happy with the sound of their own voice.