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Alfred Molina says he was a ‘working actor’ before ‘Spider-Man’ Doctor Octopus success

Alfred Molina was first on Broadway nearly 30 years ago in “Art,” but admits he still gets butterflies when he hears the stage manager announce on a Saturday: “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s Saturday night on Broadway!”

“You kind of go, ‘F – – k! What a dream come true,” the British actor, 70, told the New York Post with a laugh during a recent interview.

The Tony nominee is back in New York starring opposite Steve Carell in a Lincoln Center Theater production of the Chekov classic, “Uncle Vanya.”

And yes, he knows that there is a segment of people who immediately think of Russians ensconced in weekend dachas endlessly moaning about their existence, when they hear the name Chekov.

Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in the Marvel franchise. ©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in the Marvel franchise. ©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina has appeared as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” in 2004 and the 2024 film “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” ©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina has appeared as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” in 2004 and the 2024 film “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” ©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“I would say I know what you mean,” he shared. “There is an element about that. The plays are about people who have lost their way somehow or life has let them down but there’s also great joy and passion and comedy and a sense of the ridiculous … I think all those things are at play.”

Molina raves about Carell, 61 — “he takes the work seriously but he doesn’t take himself seriously” — and admits (sadly) that he’s yet to utter the immortal “Office” line “That’s what she said,” at an opportune moment.

“It’s my wife’s [‘Frozen’ director Jennifer Lee] favorite joke and it never gets old,” he noted.

Molina’s career spans five decades. His first screen appearance was a minor but memorable role in 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” as Indy’s ill-fated guide Satipo, who intones, “Throw me the idol, I’ll throw you the whip!”

Since then he’s appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows like “Enchanted April,” “Chocolat,” “Boogie Nights,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Feud” and, of course, Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” in 2004 and the 2024 film “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

“Before [‘Spider-Man], I was a working actor,” he acknowledged. ©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
“Before [‘Spider-Man], I was a working actor,” he acknowledged. ©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina in the “Spider-Man” Marvel franchise. ©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina in the “Spider-Man” Marvel franchise. ©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

It was a role that changed the trajectory of his career.

“Before [‘Spider-Man], I was a working actor,” he acknowledged. “I had a nice career, I was playing nice supporting roles and getting nicely noticed for it, no complaints at all. But ‘Spider-Man’ — it did kind of create a persona for a whole new audience. An audience who wouldn’t necessarily see many of the other movies I had done.

“The fact that I have a career that kind of spans both those … I’m rather proud of that,” he added.

Alfred Molina attends the 39th Annual Artios Awards in New York on March 7, 2024. Getty Images
Alfred Molina attends the 39th Annual Artios Awards in New York on March 7, 2024. Getty Images

Molina also memorably played Diego Rivera opposite Salma Hayek in 2002’s “Frida,” which was produced by Miramax.

In the last few years, Hayek, Ashley Judd and the director Julie Taymor have spoken out about Harvey Weinstein’s bullying on set. (Weinstein is serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York. In February, he was sentenced to an additional 16 years in prison for sex-related crimes.)

The “Three Pines” actor remembered the now-imprisoned movie honcho coming down to the Mexico City set to allegedly berate the staff.

Alfred Molina in “Scorpion Spring.” ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina in “Scorpion Spring.” ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina in “Prick Up Your Ears.” ©Samuel Goldwyn Films/Courtesy Everett Collection
Alfred Molina in “Prick Up Your Ears.” ©Samuel Goldwyn Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

“He called us all to his hotel suite and we all had to go up there one by one and I was the last one to go up there,” he claimed, before recalling a “bizarre” exchange where Weinstein demanded Molina to report back to him what was happening on set.

Molina refused, but one detail stuck in his mind.

“I do remember the suite was a pigsty,” he claimed. “It was littered with half-eaten hamburgers and empty cartons of food and bottles of wine and cans of Coke and he was in a bathrobe.

“I just put it down to, ‘Well, he’s just a f – – king producer, maybe they’re all like that.'”