SIR Mick Jagger almost beat actor Malcolm McDowell to the lead role in cult classic A Clockwork Orange - because his band owned the rights to the book. MCDowell shot to fame playing the bowler-hatted delinquent Alex in the 1971 film, but feared he'd never get the chance to showcase his talents because there was a more famous rocker rival vying for it too. Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival in France, MCDowell says, "I can reveal for the first time that The Rolling Stones used to own the rights to Anthony Burgess' book before director Stanley Kubrick got hold of it and cast me as Alex. "Thank God no one ever gave the Stones the money to make it because Mick Jagger had set his heart on playing Alex the rapist and murderer and the rest of the band were going to be his hit squad The Droogs. Can you believe it? "Thankfully for the history of cinema and music, I got the role which turned out to make my career and Mick went on to be Sir Mick. I don't think it would have gone that way if he'd been Alex!"