Alfred Molina has opened up about his upcoming appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which will even include the utilization of de-aging technology. In 2004, Molina played the role of the supervillain Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi's superhero sequel Spider-Man 2. It has since been revealed that Molina will reprise the role in No Way Home, although the news left Marvel fans with many unanswered questions.
For his part, Alfred Molina was asked about his Spider-Man return in a new interview with Variety. Joking that his involvement was the "worst kept secret in Hollywood," Molina said his appearance was supposed to be a surprise. Now that the cat is out of the bag, Molina spoke about how it felt returning to the role after nearly two decades.
"It was wonderful. It was very interesting going back after 17 years to play the same role, given that in the intervening years, I now have two chins, a wattle, crow's feet and a slightly dodgy lower back."
Molina then confirms that he is reprising the same Doctor Octopus he played in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2, and not a reimagined version of the character. Asked how this could be the case, as Doc Ock died in the end of Spider-Man 2, Molina noted how "in this universe, no one really dies." According to Molina, director Jon Watts told him that the movie will pick up from "that moment" in the river, referring to the climactic scene in which Doc Ock apparently drowns himself along with his reactor before the city is destroyed.
The obvious issue in Molina reprising the role is that he physically looks a little different after 17 years. When expressing these concerns to Watts, Molina says he was given a rather simple response.
"He just looked at me, and said, 'Did you see what we did to [Robert Downey Jr.] and [Samuel L. Jackson]?' I don't have the same physicality that I had 17 years ago. That's just a fact."
Molina is referring to Marvel Studios using CGI to digitally de-age RDJ to look as he did in 1991 in the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War; Samuel L. Jackson was similarly de-aged as a younger Nick Fury in 2019's Captain Marvel. Molina also brings up how Martin Scorsese similarly de-aged Robert De Niro in The Irishman. All this to say that Molina will apparently look the same in No Way Home as he did in Spider-Man 2.
In any case, Molina also recalled how the Spider-Man 2 version of Doc Ock was heavily reliant on CGI as it was. For his part, the actor describes how all he really needs to do is focus on his facial expressions, and his animated tentacles will do the rest.
"I then remembered that it's the tentacles that do all the work. My basic physical move as Doc Ock, as the actor, is just this [glares intensely]. I just do that a lot, and the arms are doing all the killing and smashing and breaking. I'm just going - [glares intensely] - with a kind of mean look on my face... It was fantastic."
Spider-Man: No Way Home is scheduled to be released on Dec. 17, 2021. You can read the full interview with Molina at Variety.