Abduction – Alfred Molina on a new generation of actors

Abduction – Alfred Molina on a new generation of actors

Abduction - Alfred Molina and Taylor Lautner
Burton (Alfred Molina) and Nathan (Taylor Lautner) © 2011 Lionsgate

With a plethora of acclaimed movie, stage and television performances behind him, Alfred Molina is a welcomed addition to any film. In his new movie Abduction, he portrays Agent Burton, a CIA operative who is attempting to track down Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner), a young man who is trying to discover the truth about his past while being chased by a team of assassins.

Molina spoke with us about his new role and the experience of working with young actors.

What attracted you to this movie, and at this point in your career what attracts you to any movie?

Abduction - Poster, Taylor Lautner
Poster 2, with Taylor Lautner © 2011 Lionsgate

What attracted me to this is I’ve never played a CIA operative before in a modern context. I did a miniseries for TNT called The Company which was about CIA guys in the forties and fifties.

Then I was playing a character that actually existed, it was based on a real person, a flamboyant field officer who ran the Berlin station back in the fifties. This was a fictional, more aggressive, more gung-ho CIA guy.

Also I’d never done anything quite like this in terms of the function of the character in the story. There were lots of things about it that were appealing. One was getting the chance to work with a whole new generation of actors.

When you get to my age you can decide to either take the easy road, which is just keep doing stuff that you’ve done before that you feel comfortable in, or take the slightly more interesting road, which is working with directors you haven’t worked with before, and working with a new generation of actors.

Hopefully you can offer them something, and they certainly offer you something.

What did working with Taylor offer you?

A new kind of energy, a new kind of approach; I find when I work with actors who are ten, twenty or even thirty years younger than me, you’re working with actors who have a completely different take on the game. They have a completely different approach to the work, and they come with an energy that is very invigorating.

When I was working with Taylor, we were doing the scene in the diner, which was a very contemplative scene, just talking. He reminded me of why I became an actor in the first place.

When I was 19, or however old Taylor is, I wasn’t making movies, I was at drama school and I was hungry for anything I could get hold of in terms of experience, and he reminded me of that.

It’s very easy when you get into your mid-to-late-fifties, especially if you’ve been lucky like I have that you’ve had a nice and varied career, to get a little bit complacent and just coast, because everyone’s telling you how marvelous you are.

Your character had a dry sense of humor, was that you or was that in the script?

An Education - Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour, Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard
One of Alfred's many films, An Education - Jack (Alfred Molina), Majorie (Cara Seymour), Jenny (Carey Mulligan) and David (Peter Sarsgaard) © BBC Films

That was all in the script. The script was finished by the time I turned up. Sometimes you’ll turn up on a movie and the script isn’t quite fully formed, and in the worst scenario you find yourself on the set, on the day of the scene, trying to fix something. That is always less than satisfactory. But that didn’t happen here. In fact, if anything we were trimming things.

How cognizant were you of Taylor before this? If you didn’t know about The Twilight Saga you might not have known who he was at all.

I think they’ve heard of Taylor on the moon! He’s part of the zeitgeist. I’ve seen the Twilight movies. In fact, I’d seen one of them before I even knew I was going to do this. And then, of course, once I knew I was doing this I went off and looked at the other ones just to stay current.

Every generation of actors create their own stars, their own icons, and it’s an indicator of how time passes when an actor of Taylor’s generation is looking up to actors like Matt Damon! You think, ‘Wow, I’m really getting f-king old!’

So I was very aware of him, and very aware that this is clearly an interesting and well thought out move for him, because I would imagine there’s a finiteness to the Twilight movies. I don’t know how many times you can go back to that same world and draw the water.

I know Robert (Pattinson) and Kristen (Stewart) are reaching out now and moving away from that franchise, and Taylor wants to do the same thing, and that’s very smart of all of them.

What surprised you about him?

I’ve got to be honest, what surprised me was just how hard he was willing to work. You can walk away with the notion that this new generation of actors are really into just having a good time, going to all the cool parties. I always think young movies stars must be like the Beatles, they take every drug, make love to each other, and just have a ball.

That’s what I tried to do when I was that age. Didn’t we all? Taylor worked very hard, and he’s clearly committed himself to working at a level in the movie business that’s commendable and is to be applauded.