Mark Margolis was born on November 26th 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a Jewish immigrant family from Europe. He went to Temple University briefly before moving to New York City, where he studied drama with Stella Adler and at the Actors Studio.
“I am just a journeyman actor. Most often I take what’s offered me, and I’ve been able to work year after year. I was in ‘Scarface.’ Some people think this must have done me a world of good. Truth to tell, six months after ‘Scarface’ I had to take a job with a real estate development friend for a few months just to get by”.
He is noted for his supporting roles in Scarface, The Cotton Club, The Secret of my Succe$$, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Delta Force 2, Hannibal, Mickey Blue Eyes, Daredevil, and the films of Darren Aronofsky: π, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan and Noah. Aronofsky wrote the role of Father Avila in The Fountain specifically for Margolis.
“There is an endless range of parts I have not played. I would love to do a whole slew of period pieces. I also used to do a lot of stage work, and I would like to go back to that from time to time“.
He has had recurring roles on numerous TV shows, including The Equalizer, Quantum Leap, Oz, Law & Order, Crossing Jordan, Californication, and Breaking Bad. For his role in Breaking Bad, Margolis received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. In 1991, he played Helmut Dieter in soap opera Santa Barbara.
“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”.
He also made appearances in Star Trek: TNG, Columbo, Californification, Defiance, Mildred Pearce, Person of Interest, American Horror Story and Gotham. He also appeared as a bar tender in the Madonna’s 1993 music video “Bad Girl.”
“A lot of the people that stop you – well, they’re not nuts, exactly. They’re more like super-fans. They think that I’m some sort of rich guy, that everyone in the movies is making the kind of money Angelina Jolie is making. They don’t realize that most of my life has been a struggle”.
Margolis is also a stage actor, appearing as Gus in Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures in the Berkeley Repertory Theater’s 2014 season. In January 2015 he potrayed Felix Faust in the Constantine episode Quid Pro Quo.
“I actually don’t pay a lot of attention to the movie ‘industry’… I just do the work when I get it. I never considered anything I was in, or did, as a possible breakthrough for me. I have advised other actors not to expect anything. Expecting a ‘breakthrough’ is almost an automatic for sure ‘let down’ or heartbreak”.