Alfred Molina is an accomplished London-born actor whose diverse and distinguished gallery of performances has led to a lengthy and triumphant career in film, in television and on the stage. Last fall, he opened in the critically acclaimed movie “An Education” and filmed a comedy series for the BBC opposite Dawn French. In late fall 2009 Molina opened in the highly celebrated Donmar Warehouse production of “Red,” which opened on Broadway April 10, 2010. Molina can currently be seen opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” Molina stars as Maxim Horvath in the innovative and epic comedy adventure “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Alfred sat down and answered a few questions about his role in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.
Q: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is the second time that you have worked in a Jerry Bruckheimer film. What are some of the hallmark traits of a Bruckheimer production?
A: Jerry Bruckheimer films have this wonderful combination of action, adventure and comedy with characters full of depth and details. There is nothing pedestrian or every day about his films. The stories will always take you somewhere completely different and that is part of the excitement of going to his films.
Q: How would you describe this film?
A: You could say that it is a classical tale of good versus evil, but it is also a great adventure story. It features two rivals who were once friends, but who are now arch enemies. This rivalry has gone on for a centuries, with one character staying on the high road and the other embracing the dark side. So it is a very traditional story that is being updated in a very new and contemporary way.
Q: Please describe the character you play in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
A: My character in the film is Maxim Horvath. He is a character whom I regard as the classic villain—someone who is well dressed and charming, but deadly. He is rather dastardly in a debonair way. I thought of all the British actors who have played this type of role over the years and I suddenly realized that I now belong to a very honorable tradition. I think it has something to do with the accent. [LAUGHS]
Q: Why did you decide to take on the role of Maxim Horvath?
A: I think part of what makes these films interesting to do is that there is a lot of room for comedy, especially when you are playing the villain. Playing the villain means that you are given carte blanche to legitimately chew the scenery. My fellow British actor Bob Hoskins used to say that the great thing about playing a villain is that you are only in the movie half of the time, you get treated like the crown jewel and if the movie stinks nobody will blame you. So it’s like the perfect gig!
Q: Describe the tricky relationship between your character and Toby Kebbell’s character, Drake Stone.
A: Maxim is in need of an ally to help him fight against Balthazar. He searches the city for a malevolent partner and he is pointed in the direction of Drake Stone. Drake is a sorcerer that has decided to use his powers to become an entertainer and make lots of money. Maxim despises this because he feels like Drake has sold out for cheap laughs. So the relationship between Maxim and Drake is kind of like a dysfunctional family. Maxim is like a really overbearing father and Drake is the son who has turned out to be a huge disappointment.
Q: Describe working with the legendary actor Nicolas Cage.
A: At first Nic was a bit nervous because it was his first Alfred Molina movie. He was shy, but he got over it. [LAUGHS] But in all seriousness, we had a great time. It is always a bit daunting at first to work with such a big star like Nic Cage, but I had a wonderful time. He is very generous and he has a great enthusiasm for the work. He also enjoys the creativity and contribution that other actors bring to the process.
Q: What is your impression of Jay Baruchel, who plays the pivotal role of the reluctant apprentice?
A: I think Jay is one of the most talented young actors around at the moment. I am rather in awe of him. He has great skills and confidence. When I was that age I did not have a quarter of the confidence and self assuredness that he has—both as a person and an actor. He is also very inventive and imaginative. He has great chops when it comes to improvising. Really talented actors make it look so easy and that is what Jay does.
A: Jon is wonderful. His is a real actor’s director. He is absolutely clear on what he expects and how to achieve it. He is not a diva. He does not scream or shout; he just creates. He is incredibly funny, loves to laugh and enjoys the camaraderie on the set. Jon has great taste and an eye for what will and won’t work. He completely understands this type of film and he brings to it not just talent and intelligence, but a complete enthusiasm for the process.
Q: Why did the filmmakers choose to shoot the film on location in New York City?
A: The city itself is very photogenic and has a very dramatic presence. When I first came to New York in the early 1980s, I felt as if I had been there before because the city has so many iconic landmarks and buildings. You have seen the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building in millions of movies and television shows. Directors such as Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese have paid homage to it. The city has a kind of throbbing life to it and I think we have achieved that energy in this film. It is sort of a double whammy when magic happens in a city that you know is magical.