CULVER CITY, Calif. – Alfred Molina has had trouble with spiders before.
You may remember the “Spider-Man 2” villain from his first notable screen role – Satipo, the craven jungle guide who betrays Indiana Jones at the beginning of 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Before uttering that famous film fib “Throw me the idol, I’ll throw you the whip” – Satipo stands petrified in the cobweb-lined passageway as Jones calmly brushes scores of eight-legged creepy-crawlies from the guide’s back and shoulders.
“There were live spiders, real snakes … that’d all be CGI (computer-generated images) now,” he recalled, scratching nostalgically at a bushy beard he has grown for the role of Tevye in the current Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” “The technology that was available on that movie seems downright crude now.”
As Doctor Octopus, Molina gets his revenge on webslingers by unmercifully pummeling the hero in “Spider-Man 2” with the four metal tentacles grafted onto his body during a botched science experiment.
The 51-year-old London-born actor nicknamed the extra limbs Harry, Larry, Flo and Moe.
Harry and Larry were the lower extremities, which held him in place during feats of strength – like hurling cars through coffee shop windows. “They were bigger and heavier,” Molina said.
“The two upper ones were slightly smaller, still very powerful. But Flo, on this side,” he said, gesturing to his right shoulder, “had all the delicate intricate stuff to do,” like removing his character’s glasses and lighting a cigar.
Although his character is frequently a mix of live-action and computer graphics, each scene with the real tentacles was played with the help of about 16 puppeteers, four for each arm.
Although he has an extensive theater background in plays such as “Art,” and portrayed Diego Rivera in the film “Frida,” Molina, 51, most commonly portrays villains on the big screen.
Molina was the buffoonishly uptight local politician in “Chocolat,” the coked-out drug dealer in “Boogie Nights,” and even the cartoonish baddie Snidely Whiplash in the live-action “Dudley Do-Right.”
“Playing villains is always fun, there’s no two ways about it,” he said. “There’s always a lot of freedom and room to be inventive. I could go to my grave playing bad guys. I love it.”
Alfred Molina loves to play villains in movies.