Childhood & Early Life
Alfred Molina was born on 24 May 1953 in Paddington, London, England. His mother, Giovanna, was an Italian cook and house-keeper while his father, Esteban, was a Spanish immigrant who served as a waiter and chauffeur.
Molina grew up in Notting Hill where many other immigrant families also lived. He decided to pursue acting after seeing ‘Spartacus’ at the age of nine. He attended Guildhall School of Music and Drama and later became a part of National Youth Theatre.
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Alfred Molina first appeared in the 1978 sitcom ‘The Losers’. He made his big screen debut with a small role in the 1981 American action-adventure ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ as Satipo, an ill-fated guide. During this time, he also performed in the play ‘Oklahoma’ at London’s Palace Theatre.
His big break came in 1985 when he was cast in the romantic-comedy ‘Letter to Brezhnev’ followed by a starring role in the British flick ‘Prick Up Your Ears,’ playing Joe Orton's sweetheart and eventual killer Kenneth Halliwell.
In the year 1989, the actor began appearing in the anthology series ‘Screen One’ and ‘Screen Two’. That year, he also acted in David Mamet's play ‘Speed-the-Plow’ at Royal National Theatre and garnered a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for his performance.
He joined the cast of the crime drama series ‘El C.I.D.’ as Bernard Blake in 1990. Soon after this, Molina featured in the film ‘Not Without My Daughter’, playing an abusive husband and father whose wife and daughter escape from his clutches. Around this period, he also had guest roles in the TV programs ‘Ashenden’, ‘Performance’ and ‘Boon’.
He performed at Royal National Theatre in Tennessee Williams' ‘The Night of the Iguana’ and then starred in the flick ‘Enchanted April’. In the ensuing years, he appeared in the play ‘Molly Sweeney’ and also had roles in the western comedy ‘Maverick’, the sci-fi horror ‘Species’ and the drama mystery ‘Before and After’.
In 1997, the actor played Rahad Jackson in ‘Boogie Nights,’ a Paul Thomas Anderson’s film that focuses on a young nightclub worker who becomes a famous star of pornographic movies, chronicling his rise during the 1970’s Golden Age of Porn to his fall in the 1980s.
In the year 1998, he made his Broadway debut with his role as Yvan in a production of ‘Art.’ The following year, he started playing Jimmy Stiles alongside Betty White in the series ‘Ladies Man.’ Molina also did the movies ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Dudley Do-Right’ that year.
He started the next decade with a role in the British-American romantic drama movie ‘Chocolat’ (2000) based on Joanne Harris’ novel of the same name. The film depicts the story of a mother who arrives at a repressed French village with her little daughter and opens a small chocolaterie there. She and her chocolates swiftly start to influence the townspeople’s lives.
In the early 2000s, the actor featured in the films ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, ‘Frida’ and ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ and also in the sitcom ‘Bram & Alice,’ playing the male lead. He guest starred in a few episodes of ‘Law & Order’ as well.
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He played the role of Bishop Manuel Aringarosa in the 2006 mystery thriller ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and of Touchstone in Kenneth Branagh's screen adaption of Shakespeare's famous play ‘As You Like It.’
In 2007, Molina gave his voice to the films ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘Chill Out, Scooby-Doo’. That year, he also appeared in six episodes of ‘The Company’ as Harvey Torriti.
He began playing Mark Rothko in the play ‘Red’ in 2009 and received the Drama League Award for his distinguished performance. He also got the opportunity to perform in the movies ‘The Pink Panther 2’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ the same year.
His role as detective Ricardo Morales in the TV series ‘Law & Order: LA’ garnered him appreciation from his fans. The actor followed this with the lead role in ‘Roger & Val Have Just Got In’ that brought him nationwide recognition.
In 2012, he started contributing as a voice artist in the animated sitcom ‘Robot Chicken’ and also did voice work for ‘Gravity Falls’. The following year, Molina played Dr. Harding Hooten in the medical drama ‘Monday Mornings’. In 2013, he also served as a voice actor in ‘Bless Me, Ultima’, ‘Justin and the Knights of Valour’ and ‘Monsters University’.
He starred as Andrés Galan in the TV series ‘Matador’ and as George in the 2014 romantic drama film ‘Love Is Strange’, which featured him as a gay man who gets married to his companion after 39 years together. Also in 2014, the actor began voicing the character of Rippen in ‘Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero’.
In 2016, he was cast as a voice actor in the animated series ‘DreamWorks Dragons’, voicing Viggo Grimborn. He also starred as Harold Lindsay-Jones in the period-drama ‘Close to the Enemy’ the same year.
In 2017, Molina portrayed Robert Aldrich in the anthology drama series ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’ for which he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. A year later, he did voice work for ‘Summer Camp Island’ as the “Monster under the Bed.” In 2018, he also acted in the films ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and ‘Henchmen’.
In 2004, Alfred Molina gained much recognition when he played the villain Dr. Otto Octavius in one of the highest-grossing movies of that year, ‘Spider-Man 2’. His performance earned him numerous award nominations, including Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor and MTV Movie Award for Best Villain. The actor later reprised his role of in the video game adaptation.
In 2004, Molina gave a stunning performance on stage, appearing in the lead role of Tevye in the Broadway play ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. The play tells the story of a father of five young daughters and his efforts to protect his Jewish cultural and religious traditions from the outside influences. For his performance in the play, the actor received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.
Molina portrayed Jack Mellor in the 2009 flick ‘An Education’. This drama film by Lone Scherfig starred Carey Mulligan as Jenny, an intelligent school-going girl, and Peter Sarsgaard as David, a charming man who seduces her. The movie got three Academy Awards nominations and Molina received nominations for BAFTA Award for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Satellite Award under the category Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture.