Mark Margolis, ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Scarface’ actor, dead at 83

Mark Margolis, an Emmy nominee for playing the silent-but-deadly, bell-ringing Mexican cartel boss Hector “Tio” Salamanca in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” has died. He was 83.

The prolific actor’s passing was confirmed by his manager, Robert Attermann.

“Over the years, Mark has not only dazzled audiences with his exceptional performances he was also an incredibly kind man was a great sense of humor who loved his family,” Attermann told The Post.

“His dedication to his craft is evident in the numerous memorable roles he brought to life, captivating audiences with his remarkable range and skill. Beyond Mark’s on-screen achievements, his genuine and approachable demeanor has made him a pleasure to work with. As both an actor and a person, Mark’s enduring excellence and amiable nature have left an indelible impression on those fortunate enough to collaborate with him and know him. He will certainly be missed.”

His son, actor and Knitting Factory Entertainment CEO Morgan Margolis, told The Hollywood Reporter he died Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City after a short illness.

Margolis’ scene-stealing acting career began in the 1970s in supporting roles in “Going in Style” (1979) and “Dressed to Kill” (1980).

As a character actor playing mobsters and baddies, his biggest early role was in 1983’s “Scarface” as mobster Alberto the Shadow opposite Al Pacino’s Tony Montana.

But it was “Breaking Bad” for which Margolis will never be forgotten. As cartel leader Hector “Tio” Salamanca, Margolis rarely spoke a word, as his character had suffered a nearly-fatal stroke that rendered him speechless.

Mark Margolis as mute Mexican cartel boss, Hector Salamanca in
Mark Margolis as mute Mexican cartel boss, Hector Salamanca in “Breaking Bad.”
©AMC/courtesy Everett Collection

Communicating mostly through glares and growls, Margolis’ wheelchair-bound Hector often rang a piercing bell to spell out words while speaking with friends and foes, including Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring.

“People, even Bryan [Cranston] said to me, ‘Is it more difficult because you couldn’t speak?’ and it really wasn’t,” Margolis told The Post in 2012. “We respond to things in our lives [with our faces] and we only use words when we need them. Sometimes you’ll respond to someone with a look if they say something stupid. I just let it happen inside and my face went with it.

And as “Breaking Bad” fans know, his final scene in the series was even more explosive than his silent, but threatening, gestures as a mute madman.

Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca and Tony Dalton as Lalo Salamanca in
Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca and Tony Dalton as Lalo Salamanca in “Better Call Saul.”
Warrick Page/Sony/AMC/Kobal/Shutterstock

“The only time I thought about how I was going to play a scene was in that last scene with Gus, when I was trying to be contrite and was determined to look very sad just as a way to suck the ba–ard [Gus] in and then turn into the devil,” he told The Post. “And that’s what I did.”

Margolis received a 2012 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his turn as Salamanca.

“And because I couldn’t speak for the first time in my long career, it forced me to listen to what the other actors were saying,” Margolis told The Post. “Most actors tend not to listen to what anyone else is saying because they’re so focused on their own performance.”

Mark Margolis studied at the legendary Actors Studio.
Mark Margolis studied at the legendary Actors Studio.
Getty Images

He also served as Stella Adler's personal assistant.
He also served as Stella Adler’s personal assistant.
Alberto E. Rodriguez

Born in Philadelphia, Margolis briefly matriculated at Temple University before studying drama in NYC with Stella Adler at the iconic Actors Studio, where he also was her personal assistant in exchange for acting classes.

“I was trained by Stella Adler, one of the greatest teachers of the world. I was 19 years old, and she frightened me to death,” he told THR. “I was her houseboy for a while.”

According to Turner Classic Movies, his first screen appearance in 1976 was actually a porno: “The Opening of Misty Beethoven,” but it was a “non-performing minor role.”

In 1977, he landed a role on CBS’ “Kojak,” leading up to his role in the Oscar-winning Brian de Palma film, “Scarface.”

“I’ve been stopped 50 times a day for 29 years because of ‘Scarface,’ ” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012. “It’s always by weird kids and hoodlums. ‘Hey man, was the cocaine real?’ and I say ‘Yeah! So was the blood and the bullets.’”

As a recognizable face, he followed that up with a recurring role on “The Equalizer” and continued through the 1980s and 90s in small roles, like Jim Carrey’s landlord in 1994’s “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

His acting credits also include “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “1492: Conquest of Paradise,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “The Blacklist” and “Daredevil.”

Mark Margolis as Jakov Mitko and Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler on
Mark Margolis as Jakov Mitko and Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler on “The Blacklist.”
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Jake Richard Siciliano as Martin and Mark Margolis as Arthur in
Jake Richard Siciliano as Martin and Mark Margolis as Arthur in “The Affair.”
Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME

Margolis became a favorite of Darren Aronofsky, who cast him in nearly all of his films including 1998’s “Pi,” 2000’s “Requiem for a Dream,” 2008’s “The Wrestler” and 2010’s Oscar-winning “Black Swan.”

Back to TV, Margolis played mob boss Antonio Nappa in HBO’s “Oz” before his breakout role in both “Breaking Bad” and the Bob Odenkirk-led “Better Call Saul.”

After his 2012 Emmy nod, he said he felt just as famous as he did for “Scarface” thanks to his role as Hector.

“Now, I get stopped every 25 minutes by somebody who’s a big ‘Breaking Bad’ fan,” he told THR at the time. “But it kind of upsets me. I ask them, ‘Do I really look that bad in real life?’ I mean, I’m an older man, but they made me up on the show to look worse than I normally do.”

His final role paired him back up with Cranston for five episodes of Showtime’s “Your Honor.”

“Mark has a distinct pedigree in the acting world and a respected reputation,” Cranston told The Observer in 2012, “but his contribution on ‘Breaking Bad’ came down to keeping it simple. And in our business, simple is hard. To convey a full range of emotion without saying a word, speaks volumes.”

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