INT: Alfred Molina
One of the most exciting aspects of SPIDER-MAN 2 is the introduction of a new villain, Dr. Octopus, played by Alfred Molina. Up until now, the technology simply wasnt there to create a film version of the classic Spidey nemesis that didnt resemble something out of CLASH OF THE TITANS. Now, thanks to the wonders of CGI, Doc Ocks tentacles can now be fully realized in all their evil, menacing glory. The first time I saw Alfred Molina was in the classic botched drug deal scene in BOOGIE NIGHTS, where he played the uber-shady Rahad Jackson, a bloated, coked-out dealer. Ive been a fan of his work ever since. Molina, who was born in the UK but now calls L.A. his home, has a pretty impressive acting pedigree, including a recent stint on Broadway in Fiddler On The Roof. Oh, and hes also made out with Gary Oldman. Check out what he has to say about making SPIDER-MAN 2, opening June 30.
This was a very different role for you, with all of the special effects. What was the biggest challenge for you?
Well, I suppose the biggest challenge is always to, the biggest challenge is always to match what you do with the material and you know to, in a sense, rise to the occasion and understand what the material is, you know. When you go into a movie that has such, such a huge emphasis on special effects and so on, the relationship between the actor and the material changes. Its not like doing, say, like a little movie like COFFEE AND CIGARETTES which basically is two guys sitting around and talking. You know, your relationship to the event changes and thats, and you have to in a sense surrender yourself to that. You know.
Were you reticent to take on such a big event movie?
No, I wasnt reticent at all. No, I mean, I was glad for the job. I was happy to do it, you know.
Did you pursue the role, or did the producers pursue you?
I dunno, I dont think I was pursued. It would be, be very flattering, very self-aggrandizing if I said they chased me all over Hollywood. No, I think I was on a list of possible candidates and the studio went through the usual process of elimination and I ended up getting it. But the other actors on the list would have been just as wonderful in the part.
What did you do to take all the weight off? The South Beach diet?
No, not the South Beach diet. Ive never heard of it. I dont know what the South Beach diet is. I suppose what Im doing, Im doing the old fashioned thing and just cutting out bread and potatoes, you know. Doing a musical on Broadway certainly helping me keep the weight down. I mean I think, you know, its, physically its hard work so yeah thats helping, definitely.
Whats it like having your own action figure?
Its strange, cause it looks nothing like me. I mean, facially, the character, theyve been very flattering. Theyve given me cheek bones which I dont have, theyve got my nose, theyve given me a slightly higher brown which I dont have, and also theyve also given me pecs which Ive never had in my life. You know Ive got middle-age man tits but Ive actually, thats what were talking about, they were very flattering.
Was it tough wearing that huge costume?
Its only tough in the sense that it is constricting but what you have to do is kinda find a way of dealing with it, of, I, I very quickly discovered that I couldnt bend and turn and shift my weight and twist in quite the same way.
What was it like mixing the puppeteering with the CG?
It was a mixture of practical puppeteer arms, CG and animation. Well, we had a fantastic team of puppeteers, about 16, 15 guys and one woman and a wonderful choreographer, a guy called Eric Hayden who, who sort of, essentially designed the movement in a way, and the puppeteers and myself, we worked together very closely over a series of weeks to try and develop a sort of, how can I put it, a kind of vocabulary of movement, a language if you like, so we could do great big things, like, you know push a hole through a building but at the same time doing delicate things like, you know, taking off a pair of glasses or lighting a cigar or even, one shot we did which I dont think we ever used it, we actually had one, one of the tentacles came out and wiped away a tear so we had a really wide range of possibility.
Did the puppeteers ever have fun with you?
Thats none of your business. That will go with me to my grave. We had a lot of fun. We actually, we ended up, we got very close cause we were working together every day and we actually gave the tentacles names.
What were they?
Let me see if I remember. The two big ones, the ones down here were very male, they were the ones that kinda broke through things. There was Harry, Larry, Flo and Mo.
How long did they take to put on and take off?
The whole thing from suit to nuts, like including all the make up and everything was probably about two, two and a half hours.
Did you have any trepidation about making out with a guy in Prick Up Your Ears?
Ive always been more nervous about having sex with a woman on film and I think, speaking as an enthusiastic heterosexual, I think its because, if youre a straight guy making out with a guy, it really is acting and theres no chance that youre suddenly going to find yourself embarrassingly aroused whereas if you re a straight man and youve got to do a love scene with some gorgeous actress, theres always the possibility that you know, you start, its like you know, little Fred Jr. suddenly gets a bit warmed up, you know.
Has that ever happened to you?
Its never, its actually never happened. Im merely speaking hypothetically of a possibility whereas man on man action would not excite me at all. And also, its-- I was playing a character, but Gary Oldmans a good kisser by the way. Just by the by.
Did you check out any of the Spider-Man comics?
Yeah. I went back and checked them out, I was curious to see how he was drawn because he changed. I think Doc Ock first appeared in the mid-60s and depending on who was drawing him, he changed. He went through various changes but the one thing that stayed constant was this wonderful, kind of slightly sardonic, almost cruel sense of humor that he had and we tried to maintain that in the movie because both Sam and I thought that was the really interesting quality.
Any important stuff in the film that didnt make it that will be on the DVD?
Oh, my nude scene? My nude scene, yeah, in that scene I had five tentacles. We lost a nude scene. No, no, it was pretty much, to be honest, it was pretty much-- oh yes, there wasnt anything important, there was pretty much everything in it, there were a couple of little linking sequences, a couple of little linking shots that got cut but nothing, nothing that kinda made me go, Oh God, you know, theyve torn the soul out of my character or anything like that.
What did you think about the first Spider-Man film?
I think what worked for me in the first movie was the same thing that I think works for the second film which is, Sams ability, Sam Raimis ability to weave together like a love story and the back stories with all the action and all the set pieces that you know obviously are part and parcel of this kind of movie. So he does, Sam clearly understands the simple premise that you cant, a movie which was just a series of actions and sequences would be a very rich diet and ultimately one which audiences would get bored by it I think, so you have to sort of season it and leaven it with something else and what was so successful in the first film was the balance between those different elements so that you got interested in them equally so the love scene or the quiet talking scene wasnt just like, oh you know well get over that film, you know, well have to wait a few minutes, then were back, you know that they carried equal weight and equal importance in the telling of the story.
Did you keep a tentacle for a souvenir.
I wish I could, but the security was hot.
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