Malcolm McDowell played a key role in Star Trek: Generations
When the producers of Star Trek: Generations were casting the movie, they had to find a bad guy who wouldn’t be a cardboard cutout villain. They considered various actors across Europe and the US before deciding they wanted Malcolm McDowell, a well-known British actor who’d appeared in powerful films like Clockwork Orange and Time After Time. He was an actor who had an eye for creating villains, and he willingly read the script.
McDowell thought the part had promise, and according to a quote in The Fifty-Year Mission The Next 25 Years, he said there was a “bit of a poet” in Soran so it gave him something to work with. Though he didn’t understand what all of science fiction was about, he felt there was a “glimmer of something that could be fun.” So when the producers asked for a meeting, he went, and that’s when the role could have disintegrated.
Producers wanted Malcolm McDowell to read for his role
McDowell had a pretty solid career before Star Trek: Generations so he was surprised when he was asked to read for the part of Soran. His immediate response was “No, I won’t.” He considered it ridiculous. adding “What do they think it is, Shakespeare?” So he remained adamant about not reading (or auditioning) for the part.
The meeting he had with Rick Berman and director David Carson went well, though, and McDowell ending up getting the part without having to audition. Carson even went so far as to say later that McDowell carries half of the movie, and “he sits on the same level as Picard and Kirk.”
"“He’s especially equipped to be a Star Trek villain, because he is such an incredibly talented performer, an instinctive actor who can also handle words, which people on Star Trek need to be able to do.”"
McDowell ended up liking Soran as a character, and while he isn’t on par with Khan as a standout villain in a Star Trek movie, he did bring a level of desperation to the movie that worked, creating him as much more than just an average, garden-variety bad guy.