Mark Margolis, actor known for ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Better Call Saul’ and ‘Scarface,’ dies at 83

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Mark Margolis, ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul’ actor, dies at 83

Mark Margolis, the character actor best known for his roles in ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul,’ has died after a short illness. He was 83


Mark Margolis, the actor best known for his performances as former drug kingpin Hector Salamanca in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” as well as Alberto the Shadow in “Scarface,” has died. He was 83.

Margolis died Thursday at New York City’s Mt. Sinai Hospital after a short illness, his son, Morgan Margolis, said in a statement to The Times.

Born in Philadelphia on Nov. 26, 1939, the actor starred alongside Al Pacino as one of the main antagonists in the Brian De Palma classic “Scarface.” Margolis received an Emmy nomination in 2012 for his portrayal of Salamanca in the critically acclaimed TV series “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.”


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Margolis studied acting in New York City under Stella Adler, then Lee Strasberg and Barbara Loden. He got his start in the New York theater scene, appearing in more than 50 off-Broadway productions including “The Golem” and “Uncle Sam.” Even after TV and film success, Margolis would return to theater productions periodically “when he could not live without them.”

The actor landed his first big movie role in “Scarface” as Alberto the Shadow, a bodyguard and hitman for Paul Shenar’s villainous drug lord, Alejandro Sosa. Margolis’ film work is noted for his frequent collaboration with Darren Aronofsky, appearing in the director’s “Requiem for a Dream,” “Black Swan,” “Pi,” “Noah” and “The Wrestler.”

Margolis debuted as Salamanca during the second season of “Breaking Bad.” In the series, his character communicates with others through facial cues and a service bell due to his paralysis. He revisited the role of the vengeful drug impresario in the AMC drama’s prequel series, “Better Call Saul.”

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Margolis told Observer in 2012 that he modeled Salamanca’s distinctive facial movements after his mother-in-law, who had suffered a stroke. “She used to do this little [chewing motion] with her mouth. She’d do that whenever she saw us come into a room,” the actor said.

Of getting into the mentality of a drug cartel leader, Margolis said, “You don’t play villains like they are villains. You play them like you know exactly where they are coming from. Which hopefully you do.”

Margolis also had recurring parts in the spy series “The Equalizer” and the HBO prison drama “Oz.” Additionally, he guest-starred in “Gotham,” “Person of Interest” and “American Horror Story: Asylum.” His final television role was in the Showtime series “Your Honor,” alongside “Breaking Bad” costar Bryan Cranston.


He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline, and son, Morgan.