Alfred Molina has played such a variety of characters with so many different accents it’s easy to forget he’s a British-born actor.
Molina’s dark features have made him believable as Latino and non-Latino characters, allowing him to play a Middle Eastern father, the patriarch of a Puerto Rican family and famed Mexican painter Diego Rivera.
“For a while there it looked like I was becoming everyone’s favorite foreigner,” jokes Molina, who’s actually of Italian and Spanish descent and speaks in a soft British accent.
“I’ve never had a problem playing any of these characters, yet people are surprised when they find out I’m British or that I have an Italian mother or a Spanish father,” he says.
Molina’s latest role is one he’s never tackled — a CIA agent in the suspense thriller “Abduction.”
He plays Frank Burton, who’s tailing a young man, Nathan (Taylor Lautner of “Twilight” fame). Nathan recently discovered he was missing as a child and has been living another person’s identity. The film opens Friday, Sept. 23.
“I’ve never played a CIA operative before, which was quite interesting to me. I was intrigued by that,” Molina tells Conexión by phone.
“This role was a whole bunch of firsts for me,” he says.
It was the first time Molina worked with director John Singleton (“Boys in the Hood”), and it was the first time Molina, 58, says he felt like the older generation on a set with young actors. Lilly Collins, 22, of “The Blind Side,” shares the screen with Lautner, 19.
“You sort of need to be reminded of why you got into this business in the first place. … I looked at Taylor and saw such enthusiasm and passion, and it was refreshing,” says Molina, who jokes he got into acting because “it was the only thing I was good at.”
Molina is best known for playing “Dr. Octopus” in the “Spider-Man” films, and earlier this year starred in the recently canceled TV show “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” Despite his long and varied career that also includes stage work, Molina declines to name a favorite role.
“I’m proud of all the work I’ve done. I like to think that every role I’ve done has taught me something,” he says.
One thing Molina has learned is to take precautions on set.
“Once you get to a certain age you wonder if you need to be a bit more careful,” he says, adding, “I wear the pads now. I wouldn’t have as a young man. I thought I was too tough for that.”