INTERVIEW: Alfred Molina on Playing Doc Ock!

Coming soon… June 30th… a new villain. What’s it like? Alfred Molina, Doctor Otto Octavius (aka Doc Ock) tells us. “There’s a certain degree of detective work you have to do because the character has already existed in another media, so you’re not during in pure fiction. It’s not something that’s completely brand new. So there’s a certain amount of attention to what a character looks like or what sort of character he or she may have been in their original manifestation. In the end, because it’s a movie version of a comic book character, it has to change. It has to evolve in some way. With a certain nod to what went before and with due respect to all the work the comic book writers and artists did, you try and approach it with as much freshness and invention as you can.”

When asked about motivation behind being Doc Ock, Molina commented, “Why? Well the money was great, and it was a chance to make a big film. I’ve never done a movie quite this big before. The last time I did a really big film was when I did ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ which 24 years ago was a state-of-the-art movie. But in comparison to what’s available technically now, it seems almost crude.”

Speaking of motivation, Molina had this to say about Sam Raimi, the director of Spider-Man 2. “Fantastic. Sam’s a real gentleman. He’s very courteous, very respectful, gives everyone the room to work. He creates a fantastic atmosphere on the set. Never raises his voice. Not a shouter. Some directors are real screamers. They get abusive. But Sam, and we worked hard. We worked long days, but because he treats people with courtesy, everyone is willing to put the hours in for him. He has a fantastic eye for storytelling. He’s got a great sensibility – particularly for this material, which he quite clearly loves. He’s just got a very intelligent and sophisticated way of telling a story which doesn’t talk down to anybody.”

Raimi’s love for the story of his movie became clear when helping Molina craft his character. “Well he was very interested in finding a way to tell the story that was both fresh and inventive, but at the same time capturing the essence that was already there in the comic book character. We both started looking through old back copies of the comic, and I think Doc Ock first appeared around the mid 60s. When he was first drawn, he was like a big, sort of brutish-looking character. Then he became a bit more sleek, a bit more sophisticated, and then he kind of became more athletic. But the one thing that was constant through all the different manifestations of them was this rather sardonic, almost crude sense of humor. We both felt that was quite an important thing to hang onto.”

As far as the expectations for a big movie like Spider-Man 2, “There’s an amazing amount of special effects and technology, the actor’s role in a sense is really not quite as crucial. You have a different relationship to the material, somehow. In a way you have to surrender to that. You’re suspended 50 feet up in the air. You’ve been there for three hours and all the shot requires is that you have to react to being punched in the head. It’s not a good time to then suddenly say, ‘Can I discuss the inner-most…I’m a bit worried about my motivation.’ You’ve gotta kind of go with the flow a little bit. Overall, making a movie like this is a completely different beast. It’s a different, you have to approach it differently. The analogy I always use is that it’s like the plumber’s tool box. It’s the same tool box, but one day you might be fixing a showerhead, the next day you’re working on some drains. But the tools come out of the same box.”

When we spoke to James Franco (Harry Osborn) about Doc Ock’s tentacles, he mentioned how difficult it seemed. Molina helped explain how they worked. “The tentacles and all that stuff was partly CGI, it was partly animation, and partly what we call practical. I had them strapped on and puppeteers were operating them, and so on. It was sort of a mixture of all three really. We tried to use the practical tentacles as much as we could when we were in either close or medium shots, because then the guys operating them could be out of shot and could actually give them some life. But obviously the big set pieces like climbing up buildings, that was obviously all computer generated.”

Sounds like it would pretty constricting huh? Well, “It was constricting in the sense that, you have to think about a certain amount of weight you were carrying and so on. Like everything else, one always just tries to incorporate that into what you’re doing. The first couple of days of rehearsal, we were just rehearsing with them, I discovered very quickly that I would have to adopt my own body language to this new circumstance. I couldn’t sort of bend and turn and move in quite the same way, so I had to find a way that Doc Ock could move with all that stuff on. The tentacles were attached to a big sort of, it’s like a big girdle that gets fused to Doc Ock’s spine and they were attached to that, so the idea is that they were actually physically fused with his spinal column.”

In talking about the Doc Ock action figure, Molina made a funny. He said, “I have seen the action figure, and I’m glad to say they’ve been very flattering. I’ve never had pecs like that. I have middle-age man-breasts. I can definitely say no that I did not model for the action figure. I think Brad Pitt modeled for that action figure. When my wife saw it, she said, ‘Honey, why can’t you look more like that?’”

Molina may not have modeled for the action figure, but he did do the voice in the video game. “We did two versions, I think. We did one version, I know nothing about video games. But my friends who have got 10 and 11 and 12 year old daughters were terribly impressed.”

Will we see Doc Ock again? “There’s no way of knowing. I think that really depends on the audiences. If the audiences come back and say ‘I love Doc Ock’, then I’m sure the way things are in comic books, in this particular Marvel Comic universe, you don’t die, you just disappear for a while. He may well come back. If audiences say, ‘who was the weird guy with the tentacles, we could’ve done without him,’ then he probably won’t come back. I always loved the character. I always thought it was a really interesting character. I remember Doc Ock from when I was a kid collecting Marvel Comics. I hope audiences dig it.”

Watch Doc Ock and Spidey battle it out in Spider-Man 2, opening Wednesday, June 30th.

Source: Chuck the Movieguy