In Conversation with Actor and Narrator Alfred MolinaSee also: | AudioFile Editors | October 15, 2021
Alfred Molina grew up in London and began his career as an actor at a time when spoken-word radio programs were a staple of regular work for actors. "You couldn't really call yourself a proper actor if you hadn't done one of the story programs like 'Play of the Week' or 'Book at Bedtime'." Alfred has primarily concentrated on both film ("Frida," "Chocolat," "The Da Vinci Code") and stage work (Tony-nominated Broadway performances in "Art," "Fiddler on the Roof"), but he's proud of the fact that he's managed to schedule in at least one audiobook a year.
Larry McMurty's Berrybender series ( SIN KILLER , THE WANDERING HILL , BY SORROW'S RIVER , FOLLY & GLORY) is a particular favorite because of the repeated characters and the variety of accents. "The stories are so visually exciting, and I got to know these fantastic characters in the 1840s' setting of the early West, which include French colonists, Spanish colonists, indigenous peoples."
Alfred had a similar interest in Alan Furst's THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT with its characters of many nationalities in a WWII setting combined with outstanding writing. "A voice can conjure up an image or emphasize a particular color or tone—but the writing has to be there," Alfred tells us. An upcoming audiobook, Steven Pressfield's KILLING ROMMEL , has all the promise of another winner.
The Audiobook of the Year Finalist, THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT , brought Alfred a real narrative challenge. Fifteen authors shared the writing of the thriller. What choices were made to bring this unique program alive for listeners? "We wanted to make each chapter an event and for listeners to be aware that they were hearing a new [authorial] voice," Alfred recalls, although the characters and the narrator remained consistent. "Some writers had a more staccato style, more edgy, and others were more languid and loquacious. I used just a slight change of emphasis." He admits to having been immediately intrigued by the unique concept of the audio program when it was proposed to him. "It's wonderfully inventive and written specifically for the audio medium."
Also celebrated this year as an Audies Finalist in the Classics category is Alfred's rendition of TREASURE ISLAND . The well-loved story has been recorded numerous times, but Alfred knows how to employ the storyteller's art to make his recording dazzle listeners. He comments, "What I love about audiobooks is that, as with radio, the listener has a unique book going on inside his or her head. Each listener's picture of Paris, or the Admiral Benbow, is different." Only the best narrators allow and encourage that experience.—Robin F. Whitten
A narrative voice that pulls listeners into the story and equally skilled with characters. Note his elegant, compelling performance of Alan Furst's THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT and a definitive reading of TREASURE ISLAND . He also takes on the original-to-audio thriller, THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT .--2007 Narrator Yearbook
Photo courtesy of the narrator
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