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RED star Alfred Molina featured in Time Out New York

THE HOT SEAT

Interview

Alfred Molina

The character actor likes playing nutjobs.

By Raven Snook

Illustration: Rob Kelly

Time Out New York

March 25-31, 2010

While it’s true that Alfred Molina can do any accent (or as he says, “give good foreign”), his real-life voice is that of a sexy British gentleman, the kind of part he rarely gets to play. Instead, the 56-year-old has portrayed a variety of deeply disturbed oddballs, including Spider-Man nemesis Doc Ock and a Speedo-sporting, cheesy-’80s-song–loving drug dealer in Boogie Nights. And now he’s playing yet another messed-up guy: abstract painter Mark Rothko in the West End stage import Red. Although John Logan’s biodrama doesn’t deal with Rothko’s eventual suicide, it does present a portrait of the artist as a middle-aged neurotic, when he was working on the Seagram murals that became a major part of his legacy. The morning after his first Broadway preview, Molina called to chat about the show and explain why he’s always careful when approached by ostensible fans.

Last night at 3am, I came across you playing a rapist-murderer on Law & Order SVU. Not exactly a role that puts an interviewer at ease.
[Laughs] No, I suppose not.

How do you get into the heads of all these—let’s be blunt—fucked-up guys?
The truth is there’s something rather attractive about them. I don’t mean in the you’d-like-to-have-dinner-with-them sort of way. They’re challenging. They present me with a set of problems that I need to solve in order to make them live.

You’re a sort of ethnic everyman. Is there any type of person you can’t play?
Well, I don’t think I’d be very convincing as African-American, but other than that…you know, most ethnicities I’ve played, I’ve managed to offend someone.

Like when?
I played an Iranian character in [the 1991 film] Not Without My Daughter. One day I was on my way to a rehearsal in London and a gentleman approached me and said, “Are you that man from Not Without My Daughter?” I thought he was a fan, so I said, “Why yes!” And he just punched me. I don’t remember it hurting. It just threw me back and I landed on the bonnet of my car. All I could think to say was, “But I’m just an actor!”

You made your Broadway debut in Art and now you’re playing abstract painter Mark Rothko. Are you one of those actors who really wants to be an artist?
No, I think it’s just sheer coincidence, really. I’ve also done a couple of movies where I’ve played artists.

I read that Julie Taymor, who directed you in Frida, sent you to art school for six weeks to prepare. Did you do anything similar for Red?
I did not. I learned absolutely nothing at those art classes… except how to argue with an annoying art teacher.

 
To read the complete interview, click on the following link:
http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/hot-seat/83887/alfred-molina-hot-seat

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