The next Spider-Man movie seems slated to be like all the ones that came before it. That is, it may actually include all of the Spiderverses we’ve seen on screen before. That means a bit of movie magic is in order for some actors reembodying some roles from the past, including Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus.
The legendary actor played Dr. Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2 back in 2004, and rumors that he would return in this year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home have now become official. In an interview with Variety, he detailed just how the film plans to bridge the gap between a 16-years younger Molina and the modern version we’ll see on screen in No Way Home. And as you might expect, the interview is both charming and also very insightful about the de-aging process.
Though his involvement was supposed to be under wraps for a long while, Molina is now detailing just how he got back in the Spider-Man fold and what he had to do to get a few extra mechanical arms back on his body. With some minor decades-old spoilers ahead, mind you.
“It was wonderful,” he said. “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 a slightly dodgy lower back.”
When the actor asked Jon Watts, the director of “No Way Home,” how the movie would bring Doc Ock back — since, as he pointed out, “I died” — Molina said the director told him, “In this universe, no one really dies.”
Molina’s main concern with reprising the role was continuity, not in the script or the canon but in how he’d look as a younger version of his current self. He even was critical of The Irishman‘s attempt at de-aging Robert De Niro, which drew some notably mixed reviews from the Scorsese flick.
“He just looked at me, and said, ‘Did you see what we did to Bob Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson?’” Molina said with a laugh. In 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Marvel Studios used CGI to de-age Robert Downey Jr. to look as he did in 1991; and in 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” also set in the 1990s, a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson played a younger version of his character, Nick Fury.
“They made Robert De Niro’s face younger, but when he was fighting, he looked like an older guy,” Molina said. “He looked like an old guy! That’s what that’s what worried me about doing it again.”
Joking about it means he must be happy with the result, which is a good sign for a movie loaded with anticipation but could obviously unfurl pretty quickly if multiverses were poorly executed. As Molina reminded during what was a very charming interview, he had an easier job than a lot of others who may pop up later this summer.
Molina realized, though, that the nature of the role would save him. “I then remembered that it’s the tentacles that do all the work!”
He sat up straight in his seat. “My basic physical move as Doc Ock, as the actor, is just this,” he said as he glared intensely at the Zoom camera and made a menacing noise. “I just do that a lot, and the arms are doing all the killing and smashing and breaking. I’m just going —” he glared again — “with a kind of mean look on my face.”
We’ll get to see just what that mean look does on camera when No Way Home hits theaters on December 17.