When the first teaser trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home Debuted On 23rd August 2021, it was a dose of nostalgia mixed with exciting reveals.
Fans of Sam Raimi Spiderman movies finally got a glimpse into the characters about to make a confirmed return including Green Goblin, and Doctor Octopus ( AKA Doc Ock ). Interestingly, the latter character’s appearance in the teaser made quite a stir in the fan community since Alfred Molina, the actor from classic Spiderman 2 was finally making a return all thanks to Marvel’s newly found cash-cow: the multiverse of course.
Moreover, one distinguishable aspect of Doc Ock in the trailer was how young and almost similar to the original character Alfred looked despite being 68 years old now. After all, the British actor was about 50 years old when he portrayed the character.
This led to many wondering about the tricks and VFX procedures involved to make Alfred give a look resembling the one from Spiderman 2 on the upcoming 2021 Spiderman.
Did Alfred undergo massive weight loss to play Doctor Octopus again or its all thanks to de-aging technology used in big Hollywood projects these days? Turns, out that the answer isn’t that simple.
Alfred Did Lose Weight For Spiderman 2
The 2004 Spiderman movie by the legendary Sam Raimi ( Evil Dead ) was a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre films. The film wasn’t just a spectacle but consisted of a deep character layer and themes on identity, power, and love juxtaposed on a good balance for mainstream entertainment.
Also, Alfred Molina’s character of Doctor Octopus is among the notable ones and a bit sympathetic at times due to his tragic backstory. The role of Doctor Octopus didn’t require much intense physicality like for instance Tom Hardy’s transformation in the 2008 movie Bronson. After all the artificial A.I. tentacles of the supervillain did most of the work involving action.
However, before the production of Spiderman 2 started, Alfred had just finished working on Frida alongside actress Salma Hayek. He played the role of Diego Rivera, painter and husband of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo which required him to gain weight in order to achieve the body type of real-life Diego.
As a result, he put off almost 12 pounds, and interestingly when he first met Sam Raimi to discuss the role of Doctor Octopus, the director wasn’t pleased with his physicality.
I was actually working out to lose the last vestiges of all the weight I put on for Frida. I turned up for my first interview for Spider-Man carrying a good 10 or 12 pounds more than I should have. It took me two weeks to put the weight on and two years to lose it. I walked in, and I was still picking the last bits of quesadilla out of my mustache. Sam said he didn’t need me to be all buff, he didn’t need that, he just wanted me to get a bit firmer because I was still quite overweight from that movie.
So, he indeed lost about 12 pounds of weight he had put on working on Frida and even cut off his mustache. Turn to almost 16 years later and there’s no doubt Alfred gained more weight with increasing age.
But what’s shocking is that the trailer and recent pictures of Molina hint he has really kept a check on his diet and weight,
Wedding Pictures From 2021 Show Alfred’s Transformation
In August 2021, Alfred’s newlywed wife Jennifer Lee shared pictures from the wedding. There was an outpour of congratulations and good wishes pouring from all fans. On the other hand, some fans were quick to notice that the 68-year-old actor looked really good for his age considering the fact that his wife Jennifer is 49.
The wedding pictures showed Alfred donning a black suit slimmer than back from 2018 and shaved slick.
Many might just shrug this fact thinking Alfred’s transformation was simply for the auspicious wedding. But here’s the catch, the actor was in fact well shaven and slim for professional reasons, i.e for the production and shooting of Spiderman: No Way Home.
Alfred Was De-Aged Using VFX To Play Doctor Octopus
One fan commented on Spiderman No Way trailer writing ‘They honestly didn’t need to de-age him in no way home, the man ages like daddy juice’. And this couldn’t be truer looking at his current pictures and fresh-looking appearance.
However, when working on a big-budget Disney movie like Spiderman, the makers can’t even compromise a bit since they have to keep the nostalgia intact.
Turns out that de-aging technology was an integral part of Alfred’s acting since he confirmed it exclusively t Variety magazine back in April 2021. Also, he was very concerned about the way his current appearance would hinder him from playing a character from 2004.
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. He just looked at me, and said, ‘Did you see what we did to Bob Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson?’”
Despite being assured by the studio that de-aging would make it possible to perform as 2004 Doctor Octopus version again, he wondered if the action sequences would be believable to audiences.
De-aging Technology Isn’t Always Easy To Sell In Hollywood
Partly, Alfred’s concern about the effectiveness of de-aging technology in terms of believable was without a doubt, very justified. De-aging, a 3d technology used to make actors look younger has also failed to convince audiences in movies like X-Men- The Last Stand and Black Widow.
In the later one, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz’s de-aging was really good but the action performance wasn’t much believable since it was the older version of them doing the action sequence.
So yeah, De-aging can make actors look really young like when perfectly done in Blade Runner 2049. But the technology becomes a hard sell when implemented in action sequences.
Thankfully, Molina is required to do most of the work in terms of facial cues, expression-based performance rather than fighting since the tentacles do most of the heavy action. And with VFX, this one isn’t hard to pull off.
My basic physical move as Doc Ock, as the actor, is just giving proper reaction,I just do that a lot, and the arms are doing all the killing and smashing and breaking. I’m just creating a mean look on my face.
Suffice to say that Alfred won’t be doing much action this time. However, there’s no do doubt his face went through several layers of scanning from the VFX department to create perfect de-aging. And the shaved face along with the maintained figure seemed to have helped a lot/judging by the trailer. So yup, weight loss, and de-aging seem to be involved equally in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Nevertheless, the VFX is among the least of things hardcore Marvel fans are worried about. Since Doctor Octopus died in the original Spiderman 2 ending, Marvel studio will have to create a really good plot to justify bringing this iconic character on the MCU universe again. It’s quite a gamble to keep nostalgic fans excited but the end results are massively profitable when done right.