Who Is Alfred Molina?
Alfred Molina was born on May 24, 1953, in London, England. He joined the National Youth Theater, studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His first American film was Raiders of the Lost Ark and he has received Tony Award nominations for his Broadway work. Molina has been married to actress Jill Gascoine since the mid-1980s.
Actor Alfred Molina was born on May 24, 1953, in London, England. A versatile actor, Molina has played a diverse mix of personalities and nationalities, from Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in the film Frida to Teyve, a Jewish Russian milkman in a Broadway production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. He comes from a Spanish and Italian working-class background. His father was a waiter and his mother was a housekeeper.
As a child, Molina dreamed of becoming an actor. He started to make his dreams a reality by joining the National Youth Theater in 1969. After a few seasons with the theater company, Molina went to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He became a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977. As part of the company, Molina appeared in several productions, including Troilus and Cressida and King Lear.
Molina made quite a stir in the 1979 London production of Accidental Death of an Anarchist, playing the Maniac. Two years later, he made his first American film, Raiders of the Lost Ark with Harrison Ford as archaeologist Indiana Jones. This epic adventure film was directed by Stephen Spielberg, and became a huge box office smash. In the movie, Molina played Satipo, a treacherous South American tour guide. It was a small role involving some scary close encounters with tarantulas.
For years after Raiders, Molina landed small film roles and worked on television and the stage. The art-house film Prick Up Your Ears (1987) helped raise his profile. In the film, he played K. L. Halliwell, the lover of British playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman). The role provided Molina the opportunity to show his great range as an actor. Halliwell initially supported and encouraged Orton to pursue a career as a writer, but he later brutally beat his lover to death and then killed himself.
In 1991, Molina starred opposite Sally Field in the family drama Not Without My Daughter. He played Field’s husband, an Iranian doctor, who convinces her to travel back to his native country with their daughter. Once there, he refuses to let her leave with their child to return home to the United States. Truly an actor who can disappear in a role, Molina played a Cuban immigrant struggling to build a new life in Florida in The Perez Family (1995) with Marisa Tomei, Anjelica Huston and Chazz Palminteri.
Taking on New Roles
By the end of the 1990s, Molina made his Broadway debut in Art with Alan Alda and Victor Garber. His performance as one of three friends who become embroiled in an argument about a work of modern art earned him his first Tony Award nomination. He also tried his hand at American series television with Ladies Man, which premiered in the fall of 1999. In this short-lived sitcom, Molina played a loveable schlump surrounded mostly by women -- his second wife (Sharon Lawrence), his mother (Betty White) and his daughters.
After the series ended in 2001, Molina jumped into another sitcom, Bram and Alice. This time he was a famous writer who discovered that he had a daughter from a one-night stand long ago. Unfortunately, only a few episodes of the show aired in October 2002 before it was cancelled. Molina had better luck on the big screen that year. In Frida (2002), he played famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera opposite Salma Hayek as artist Frida Kahlo. Molina received largely positive reviews for his work on film, which was directed by Julie Taymor.
In 2004, Molina demonstrated his diverse skills as a performer. He starred in a Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof as Tevye, a Jewish milkman trying to find husbands for his three daughters. Earning mostly favorable reviews, Molina also received his second Tony Award nomination. On the big screen, he played comic book villain Dr. Otto Octoavius -- also known as Doc Ock -- the huge summer blockbuster Spider-Man 2 starring Tobey Maguire as the crime fighting web-slinger.
More recently, Molina played Bishop Manuel Aringarosa in The Da Vinci Code (2006) with Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. Other projects included the family drama Humboldt Park and the comedy Pink Panther 2.
With his versatility, Molina unsurprisingly adapted to a small screen role in the 2017 FX series Feud. Directed by Ryan Murphy, Feud focused on the rivalry of yesteryear between Hollywood icons Joan Crawford, played by Jessica Lange, and Bette Davis, played by Susan Sarandon. For his role as film writer and director Robert Aldrich, Molina garnered Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations.
Molina has been married to actress Jill Gascoine since the mid-1980s. The couple has a daughter named Rachel.
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