Mark Margolis, the veteran actor best known for his performances on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, has died, his son, actor and Knitting Factory Entertainment CEO Morgan Margolis, has told CNN.
Margolis died on Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York after a short illness, his son said. He was 83 years old.
In 2012, Margolis was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role as Hector “Tio” Salamanca in Breaking Bad. Tio, a fan-favorite character, was a former cartel enforcer who communicated via a brass bell attached to his wheelchair. He later played Tio as a young man, before he was in a wheelchair, in the prequel series Better Call Saul.
“It was a wonderful creature! The fact that he had no words didn’t bother me,” Margolis told Time in 2013 about the role. “I was glad I didn’t have to learn lines. I mean, I had to know what was going on, I had to follow my lines, but the fact that I didn’t have to sharpen my lines was great. I need to fly to New Mexico and not worry about remembering anything.”
Margolis also appeared in Scarface, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Oz among many other films released in 1976. He often worked with director Darren Aronofsky and appeared in six of his films.
The actor studied with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler in New York.
Although he has had over 100 film and television roles, Margolis found the tenacity of his performance as Tio surprising.
“I can’t walk 50 feet down the street without taking a photo and signing an autograph! I just had to be in one episode,” he said in the same 2013 interview. “After the second season, I didn’t know anyone who knew the show, but after the third season, it just exploded.”
Margolis, best known for his portrayals of villains, has actually been described as humorous and self-deprecating.
“There are three guys a day who stop me and the only thing they know me for is Scarface. I always say, “Oh my God, you’re talking about something 30 years old,” Margolis told Vulture in 2016. “I’m a curmudgeon and I get into things like that with people. I should just shut up. It makes you feel like they fired you for some reason. I shouldn’t be hurt, but I’m a little upset. Unsafe, that’s probably the word.”
Margolis joked about being known for his Breaking Bad bell ringing skills when he was hired to appear in a commercial for an Apple watch app.
“I don’t often do commercials. I didn’t know why someone wanted me, and that’s because this thing is called Dingbel, and it rings a bell,” Margolis recalled to Vulture. “I tell people that I am the second most famous bell ringer after Quasimodo. It’s me and Quasimodo.
But the joys of acting did not bypass Margolis either. Last year, in a sit-down interview with his Better Call Saul co-star Jonathan Banks, he said of his craft, “The great thing about it is that I used to be so shy, I wouldn’t even talk, and (was) shut down. It sets me free. It gives me things, allows me to do things that I could never do in my life. I love it very much.”
Margolis is survived by his wife Jacqueline, a son and several grandchildren.
Later Friday, Cranston posted an Instagram tribute to Margolis, writing: “Mark Margolis was a really good actor and a wonderful person. Fun and exciting off set and (in the case of Breaking Bad and Your Honor) intimidating and intimidating on set.”
“His calm energy belied his mischievous nature and inquisitive mind,” Cranston continued. “And he loved to share a good joke. I already miss him. Rest well, Mark, and thank you for your friendship and exceptional work.”
Aronofsky also took to social media in honor of the actor who has appeared in his films Pi, Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain, among others. The director called Margolis “a friend, a mentor, a real New Yorker and a great artist.”
“I love you Mark and I’m so grateful for all you’ve done for the world,” Aronofsky added.