A digital de-aging process will shave more than 15 years off Alfred Molina when the 67-year-old actor reprises his role as Doctor Octopus for the first time since 2004's Spider-Man 2. Using digital technologies Marvel Studios employed to depict a younger Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Captain America: Civil War and an aged-down Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in Captain Marvel, Sony and Marvel will recreate Molina's 2004 look when Doc Ock returns in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe circa 2024, the Jon Watts-directed No Way Home seemingly retcons Ock's 2004 death when the new film picks up where Molina's story ended in Spider-Man 2.
Returning as the infamous Marvel Comics villain "was wonderful," Molina told Variety. "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."
Recalling an early conversation with Watts, Molina asked the Spider-Man director about bringing back Otto Octavius 20 years after his death with an actor who had aged in the 17 years since Spider-Man 2.
"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. Referencing Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, Molina added, "They made Robert De Niro's face younger, but when he was fighting, he looked like an older guy. He looked like an old guy! That's what worried me about doing it again."
Though computers and digital makeup can make an actor appear younger, Molina pointed out: "I don't have the same physicality that I had 17 years ago. That's just a fact."
Whether or not Molina's Doc Ock grapples with a middle-aged Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) when he enters the universe home to a teenaged Spidey (Tom Holland), Molina was relieved by a realization that "the tentacles that do all the work."
"My basic physical move as Doc Ock, as the actor, is just this [staring and making a menacing noise]," Molina said. "I just do that a lot, and the arms are doing all the killing and smashing and breaking. I'm just going [through it] with a kind of mean look on my face. It was fantastic."
Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters on December 17.