Alfred Molina gets emotional reflecting on disappointing his father by choosing acting career

‘If my dad had lived a little longer, he hopefully would have realized I hadn’t wasted my time,’ said Molina

Kevin E G Perry
Thursday 02 May 2024 18:39 BST
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Alfred Molina stars as Doc Ock in 'Spider Man 2'

Alfred Molina fought tears as he reflected on disappointing his father by choosing an acting career in an emotional new interview.

The BAFTA-nominated actor, 70, is best known for his performances in films such as Boogie Nights and Frida and his villainous turn as Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.

He was born in London to two immigrant parents: his Spanish father was a waiter while his Italian mother worked as a cleaner.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Molina recalled: “When I was very young, my dad got me a job as a waiter in the restaurant where he was working.

“If I say so myself, I was a good waiter to the point where the management offered me the chance to do a two-week management training course.

“I turned it down because I got an acting job. My father says, ‘This acting job, how much are they paying you?’ I said, ‘I’m getting union wage, so £15 a week.’”

Alfred Molina in New York in 2024
Alfred Molina in New York in 2024 (Getty Images)

Molina explained that the management job at the restaurant would have paid twice that, leading his father to ask: “Wait a minute. You’re making 30 or 35 here. Then you go to making 15?”

“I said, ‘Yeah.’ He looked at me and he had the look on his face that you reserve for the mad and the lost.

“He stared at me like he didn’t recognize me. The only thing I could say to him was, ‘This is what I love, Dad.’ He never quite got it. I did disappoint my dad. Yeah. If my dad had lived a little longer, he hopefully would have realized I hadn’t wasted my time.”

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After fighting back tears, Molina added that he and his father never spoke about his burgeoning career in the arts.

“He wasn’t phoning me up saying, ‘So what are you up to? What’s going on?’ We didn’t have that kind of relationship.

“When he passed away, I went to Spain for the funeral and I was with his widow and she drags out this suitcase and it’s full of clippings and photos and bits from magazines and letters from people that wrote to him saying they saw me. He kept all this stuff, but he never talked about it.

“My step mom said, ‘Do you want any of this?’ I couldn’t handle it. I said no. I’ve always tried with my kids… All you can do is tell them how brilliant you are. That’s all you need to do.”

In 2022, Molina told The Independent that his first agent advised him to change his name from “Alfredo” to “Alfred” because otherwise: “You’ll be playing Spanish waiters all your life.”

“That really did sting, because my dad was Spanish, and my dad was a waiter,’” recalled Molina. “And I can remember being really kind of… it pissed me off.”

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