Alfred Molina filmography and biography
Date of birth: 24 May 1953, London, England, UK
Alfred Molina biography
Alfred Molina was born in 1953 in London, England, of a Spanish father and an Italian mother. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. His stage work includes two major Royal National Theatre productions, Tennessee Williams' "The Night of the Iguana" (as Shannon) and David Mamet's "Speed the Plow" (as Fox), plus a splendid performance in Yasmina Reza's "Art" (his Broadway debut), for which he received a Tony Award nomination in 1998. He made his film debut in Raiders of the Lost Ark and got a good part in Letter to Brezhnev (as a Soviet sailor who spends a night in Liverpool), but his movie breakthrough came two years later when he played--superbly--Kenneth Halliwell, the tragic lover of playwright Joe Orton (I), in Stephen Frears' Prick Up Your Ears. He was also outstanding in Enchanted April, The Perez Family (as a Cuban immigrant), Anna Karenina (as Levin) and Chocolat (as the narrow-minded mayor of a small French town circa 1950s, who tries to shut down a chocolate shop).
Alfred Molina trivia
- Although he himself is fully an Englishman, Alfred's father was a Spanish waiter and his mother was an Italian housekeeper. His mixed background has allowed him to play characters of almost any heritage.
- He gained a good amount of weight to play the huge Diego Rivera (I) in Frida and then slimmed down to play Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2. Alfred regretted that due to his part as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof", he again was forced to regain his bulk.
- Was chosen to play Doc Ock after Spider-Man 2 director Sam Raimi and his wife watched Frida.
- Was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award: in 1998 as Best Actor (Play) for "Art," and in 2004 as Best Actor (Musical) for portraying Tevye in a revival of "Fiddler on the Roof."
- Auditioned for the part of Rimmer in Red Dwarf.
- Educated at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he started out as a busker specializing in stand-up comedy and doing odd jobs to supplement his welfare cheque, before being accepted by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977.
- Was nearly cast as Al Capone in Road to Perdition.
- He has one daughter, Rachel (b. 1980) from a previous relationship. He also has 2 stepsons, from his wife Jill's first marriage.
- Considers Not Without My Daughter and Enchanted April his favorite roles.
- Is a huge fan of jazz.
- Speaks Spanish and Italian fluently.
- Has been turned into a Lego mini-figure twice: first for his role as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2, and again for his role as Satipo in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- He studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village in New York City.
Alfred Molina quotes
- When you're kind of my size and look the way I do, leading man romantic leads aren't going to come your way.
- The worst thing that an actor can do is go into any project with a lack of respect for the material. You can have an opinion about it, but you have to respect yourself in doing it.
- Music is an essential part of my life and I'm completely lost without a good album to listen to or my iPod in my pocket! I love world music, and am always on the lookout for new sounds from Africa - The Best of Ethiopiques is one of my current favorites. Then there's Brazil, Cuba, the East. I should also admit that my Italian roots come out in my love for melodic music. My mother made me listen to a lot of the pop stars from the 1950s and '60s, like Rita Pavone, Claudio Villa, Gino Paoli and I love Luigi Tenco.
- I love theater work because of the immediate effect your performance has on the audience. And I love the repetition, I love getting on the same stage for more than a month and reciting the same lines, trying to make a small or large step towards an improvement in my acting. That's obviously impossible when you watch your movie on the screen - at that point it's all over, too late.
- There are many actors who have inspired me: Spencer Tracy for his incredible elegance, and of course, Cary Grant. But there's also an Italian actor I admire a great deal: Alberto Sordi
- I think it's just with anyone, with any character, you have to believe in what you're saying in the same way that he does. I always use the example that the actor playing Sister Mary Teresa has exactly the same responsibility as the actor playing Adolf Hitler. The responsibility is to represent those people as accurately as you can, regardless of whether they're good or bad, evil or saintly. Regardless of what they're like, you have to represent them. You can't misrepresent them. You can't suddenly decide, 'You know what? I'm playing Mussolini but I'm going to give him an Irish accent because I think that works better for some of the dialogue.' You can't do that kind of thing. But when you're playing a character that's fictitious, really what they're paying you for is to be as imaginative as you can.
- (On frequently playing foreigners) I'm very proud of the fact that I can play all these different nationalities. I've done it with varying degrees of success, but at least with the best of intentions. I think at some point you run the danger of becoming everyone's favorite foreigner.
- The way I was raised was very interesting and diverse. Both my parents tried very hard to keep the old ways alive. My parents taught me how to speak Spanish and Italian. My grip on the languages is somewhat less than perfect, but my Spanish is pretty good because I use it every day, especially when I'm back home in Los Angeles. I have a great love for the culture in terms of the history, the music, the food, the art, and the great social, scientific, and cultural advances that have emanated from both those countries. I am very aware of the contributions we have all made to the general well being of the world. I'm really proud of it because my parents - although they were very happy to be living in England [because] it gave them a means to survive and work and have a pretty decent life - didn't bury themselves. They celebrated where they came from and what it gave them.
- (2004 - On his favorite roles to date) There are a few that I've always been particularly proud of - Not Without My Daughter and Enchanted April. At the time they were parts that were so far away from me, from what I was, from what I am. I saw them as a challenge. In Not Without My Daughter, I played an Iranian doctor who takes his family back to Iran and converts to a much more fundamental form of Islam. He basically kidnaps his family. That's pretty far away from what I am. So you kind of try to do things that challenge you.
- I always look for something that is as different and as diametrically opposed to what I did last time. I try to make each job as different as I can from the last job. And that's really my only criteria. I don't have a particular game plan. You pay a price for that in certain ways. That level of variety tends to mean that you'll always be second or third lead. That's fine because it means that you've got a much wider range of parts available.
- I've always prided myself in being able to sniff out a really bad script. But I haven't always been 'on the know' when it comes to choosing a really, really good script. We all make mistakes, but you develop an eye for certain things. As you get older and more experienced - and I've been acting now for over 30 years - it doesn't always help you to become more discerning about what's a good or a bad script. But certainly you get a better idea of what suits you or what you think is within your capabilities. I mean, if someone sent me the part of a 30-year-old romantic lead I'd have to say, 'I'm sorry, and that's very sweet of you, but let me play his dad.'
- (On his ability to play characters with different accents) I have always enjoyed working with different accents. It's become sort of a trademark of mine. It's not because of any special skills; it's a happy accident of nature and nurture that I am able to do it. My parents were immigrants to England, and I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in London that was full of other immigrant families from all over Europe, the West Indies, Africa. When I went to school, all the kids were first-generation born in England. So all the parents spoke English with very heavy accents, if they spoke English at all. So I kind of grew up in this whole environment where I heard all these different rhythms and accents. I think I just soaked it up unconsciously, and when I became an actor I had it all there stowed away.
- I love being added to that list of English actors playing villains. I guess somewhere in the history of American film and television someone decided that the English accent sounded somehow villainous.