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Alfred Molina

Alfred Molina

Alfred Molina (born Alfredo Molina; 24 May 1953) is a British actor. He is known for his leading roles and character actor roles on the stage and screen. In a career spanning over five decades he has received a Drama Desk Award as well as nominations for two BAFTA Awards, a British Independent Film Award, an Independent Spirit Award, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Tony Awards.

He first rose to prominence in the West End, earning a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Newcomer in a Play for his performance in the production of Oklahoma! in 1980. He received Tony Award nominations for his roles on Broadway playing Yvan in Art (1998), Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (2004), and Mark Rothko in Red (2009). He returned to Broadway playing Professor Serebryakov in a revival of Uncle Vanya (2024).

On film, he made his debut as Satipo in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He went on to receive two BAFTA Award nominations for his roles as Diego Rivera in Frida (2002), and Jack Mellor in An Education (2009). His other notable films include Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Enchanted April (1992), Boogie Nights (1997), Chocolat (2000), Luther (2003), The Da Vinci Code (2006), and Love Is Strange (2014). He has voiced characters in Rango (2011), Monsters University (2013), Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018), and Frozen II (2019). He is also known for his portrayal of Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 (2004) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).

On television, Molina has received two nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for his roles as Ben Weeks in the HBO movie The Normal Heart (2014), and Robert Aldrich in the FX miniseries Feud: Bette and Joan (2017). His other notable television credits include Meantime (1983), Murder on the Orient Express (2001), and Three Pines (2022).

Early life and education

He was born Alfredo Molina in the Paddington district of London. His parents were both immigrants: his Spanish father was a waiter, and his Italian mother worked as a cleaner.

Molina grew up in a working-class district in Notting Hill that was inhabited by many other immigrant families. He attended Cardinal Manning secondary modern Roman Catholic school there. He decided to become an actor after seeing Spartacus at the age of nine, and attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, as well as auditioning for and becoming a member of the National Youth Theatre. Molina admitted in May 2024 that his father was disappointed in him for pursuing a career in acting.

At the age of 21, he changed his name to Alfred, at the urging of his first agent.


1978–1989: Early work

Molina appeared with Leonard Rossiter in the sitcom The Losers (1978). He made his film debut with a minor role alongside Harrison Ford in Steven Spielberg's adventure film Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) as Indiana Jones' ill-fated guide, Satipo, during its iconic opening sequence. Molina stated in an interview in 2013 that he owes his stage and film career to the Indiana Jones series. "I'm very, very proud of that, I have to admit I didn't think at the time, 'Oh, this is going to go down in movie history.' I'd never been in front of a camera before," Molina said about his short but memorable appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He recalled getting the job as a "gift from God" and said, "I've publicly thanked Steven many, many times. That job saved my bacon, in more ways than one." About his now-famous line in the film, Molina stated that "I've never had a problem with people coming up to me about it. They'll shout that line to me, 'Throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip!' I'm delighted that people still remember it."

However, his big break came with Letter to Brezhnev (1985), which he followed with a starring role in Prick Up Your Ears (1987), playing Joe Orton's lover (and eventual murderer) Kenneth Halliwell. He was originally cast as Arnold Rimmer in the TV sitcom Red Dwarf, but was replaced by Chris Barrie.

1990–1999: Broadway debut and acclaim

In the early 1990s, Molina was a ubiquitous presence on British television, with his highest profile role being the lead in the first two series of El C.I.D.. He appeared in the critically acclaimed films such as Mike Newell's costume drama Enchanted April (1992), Richard Donner's western comedy Maverick (1994), and Jim Jarmusch's western Dead Man (1995). Subsequent film roles include the drama Not Without My Daughter (1991), the science fiction horror film Species (1995), the broad comedy Dudley Do-Right (1999). With a midwestern American accent, Molina starred alongside Betty White in the US television series Ladies Man, which ran from 1999 to 2001. In 1993 he appeared in the BBC miniseries adaptation of A Year in Provence, playing the annoying Tony, along with John Thaw and Lindsay Duncan. In 1995, Molina starred with Marisa Tomei in The Perez Family, playing Cuban refugees who pretend to be married so they can more easily stay in America. Marjorie Baumgarten praised Molina as attaining "the right mixture of gentle honor and baffled stupefaction" to portray his character, although Peter Rainer of Los Angeles Times called Molina "so intensely sodden that he’s like a great big scowling dark cloud." Molina has worked twice with Paul Thomas Anderson, first in Boogie Nights (1997) and then in Magnolia (1999).

2000–2009: Established actor

In 2000, Molina appeared in Lasse Hallström's Chocolat which received critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination. He gained wide recognition for his portrayal of Diego Rivera alongside Salma Hayek in the biopic Frida (2002), a role for which he gained BAFTA and SAG award nominations. He played himself alongside Steve Coogan in Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) and gained further commercial recognition when he portrayed Johann Tetzel in Luther (2003) and Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 (2004), which became one of the highest-grossing films of that year. For the latter, Molina was nominated for a Satellite Award as Best Supporting Actor. He reprised his role in the video game adaptation. In 2006, Molina portrayed Touchstone in Kenneth Branagh's film version of Shakespeare's As You Like It and appeared in Ron Howard's adaptation of The Da Vinci Code. Molina provided the voice of the villain Ares in the 2009 animated film Wonder Woman.

Molina's stage work has included two major Royal National Theatre productions, Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana (as Shannon) and David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow (as Fox). In his Broadway debut, Molina performed in Yasmina Reza's Tony Award-winning play 'Art', for which he received a Tony nomination in 1998. In 2004, Molina returned to the stage, starring as Tevye in the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. For his performance he once again received a Tony Award nomination, this time for Best Actor in a Musical. He received his third Tony Award nomination for Red in 2010, for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.

In 2007, Molina narrated a 17-part original audiobook for called The Chopin Manuscript. This serialised novel was written by a team of 15 best-selling thriller writers, including Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, Joseph Finder and Lisa Scottoline. The novel won the 2008 Audiobook of the Year Award form Audio Publishers Association.

2010–2019 Career expansion

On 1 April 2010, Molina opened at Broadway's John Golden Theatre in the role of artist Mark Rothko in John Logan's drama Red opposite Eddie Redmayne for a limited engagement through 27 June. He had played the role to much critical success at the Donmar Warehouse in London in December 2009 and revisited that role at the Wyndham's Theatre in the West End in 2018.

In 2010, Molina starred opposite Dawn French in the six-part BBC sitcom Roger & Val Have Just Got In, with a second series in 2012.

Molina has three Lego Minifigures modelled after him, namely Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Satipo from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Sheik Amar from Prince of Persia. In July 2010, it was announced that Molina had joined the cast of Law & Order: LA as Deputy District Attorney Morales. He previously guest-starred in a two-part crossover in 2005 in two other Law & Order franchise shows, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

Molina is a patron of the performing arts group Theatretrain. He is also a longtime member of the Los Angeles theatre company The New American Theatre, formerly known as Circus Theatricals, where he often teaches Shakespeare and Scene Study along with the company's artistic director Jack Stehlin. In 2017 he portrayed film director Robert Aldrich in Ryan Murphy's FX limited series Feud: Bette & Joan. The series revolved around the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in 1962 and the relationship between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford played by Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange respectively. Molina received critical praise for the film as well as awards attention received nominations from the Primetime Emmy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards for his performance.


In 2020, Molina appeared in David Oyelowo's drama The Water Man, and Emerald Fennell's black comedy thriller Promising Young Woman. On 8 December 2020, it was announced that he would be returning as Doctor Octopus for Spider-Man: No Way Home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, set to premiere on 17 December 2021. Molina later confirmed that he would actually be reprising his role as the Spider-Man 2 incarnation of Doctor Octopus in No Way Home, retconning his character's apparent death at the end of the former film. He was digitally de-aged to his 2004 self. On 2 September 2021, it was announced that Alfred Molina was set to star in Amazon Prime police drama series Three Pines, which comes from The Crown producer Left Bank Pictures. Molina plays Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec, the lead character from Louise Penny’s book series (including Still Life, the first entry of the unnamed series), he also serves as executive producer for the show. The trailer came out in October 2022 and the show premiered in December 2022. It was cancelled after one season.

In 2024, Molina returned to Broadway playing Professor Serebryakov in a revival of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya (2024). The production was directed by Lila Neugebauer and adapted by Heidi Schreck. Molina co-starred alongside Steve Carell, William Jackson Harper, Alison Pill, Anika Noni Rose, and Jayne Houdyshell.

Personal life

Molina has a daughter, Rachel, from a previous relationship.

In 1986, Molina married actress Jill Gascoine in Tower Hamlets, London. They remained married until her death on 28 April 2020 in Los Angeles from Alzheimer's disease. Molina resides in Los Angeles, California. In 2004, he announced that he had become a U.S. citizen. He is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and French. In 2017, he moved to La Cañada Flintridge.

Molina is an advocate for people with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). He donates towards AIDS research, participates in the Los Angeles AIDS Walk and appeared as himself in a documentary produced by Joseph Kibler (who has been HIV+ and paraplegic since his birth, c. 1989) about Kibler's life titled Walk On, first screened in 2013.

In November 2019, director Jennifer Lee confirmed that she was in a relationship with Molina, and they later married in August 2021.

When playing the role of Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody in Not Without My Daughter, Molina was once physically assaulted on his way to a rehearsal by a man who mistook him for the real Mahmoody.





Radio and audiobooks

Video games

Awards and nominations

Collection James Bond 007


External links

  • Media related to Alfred Molina at Wikimedia Commons
  • Alfred Molina at IMDb
  • Alfred Molina at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Alfred Molina at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  • Alfred Molina interviewed on Downstage Center XM Radio at American Theatre Wing, November 2004
  • Q&A: Alfred Molina

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Alfred Molina by Wikipedia (Historical)