Renowned for his portrayal of Hector Salamanca in two acclaimed series, he inhabited the role of a wheelchair-bound drug cartel member following a stroke. On Thursday, he passed away in a New York City hospital after a brief illness, according to a statement from his son.
Margolis left an indelible mark on both the big and small screens. His acting credits encompassed iconic works such as Scarface, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and the HBO series Oz. However, it was his Emmy-nominated depiction of Salamanca that truly stood out. He masterfully embodied a hyper-violent gangster who communicated solely through a bell and expressive facial gestures due to his inability to speak.
The Breaking Bad Facebook page paid tribute to this remarkable actor, stating: “With his eyes, a bell, and very few words, Mark Margolis transformed Hector Salamanca into one of television’s most unforgettable characters. We join countless fans in mourning his loss. He will be deeply missed.”
Born in Philadelphia, Margolis later settled in New York and trained under the tutelage of the renowned acting coach Stella Adler. He appeared in over 70 films spanning five decades, even enduring moments of hardship early in his career. Reflecting on his journey, he once admitted to taking a temporary job in real estate to make ends meet shortly after his involvement in Scarface.
In a captivating twist, Margolis revealed that his inspiration for the Salamanca character came in part from his mother-in-law, who, like the character, was rendered speechless by a stroke. Recalling visits to her, he shared how her involuntary lip movements became a foundation for his performance.
Margolis expressed his delight in the challenge of acting without words, explaining, “It was a marvelous creature! The fact that he didn’t have any words was not an issue for me. I was delighted not to have to learn any lines.” This innovative approach allowed him to immerse himself fully in his roles and bring depth to his characters.
Colleagues and collaborators poured their hearts out online to pay their respects. Writer Thomas Schnauz, who collaborated with Margolis on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, fondly remembered his infectious laughter on set. Peter Gould, co-creator of Better Call Saul, shared his devastation at the loss of this talented actor.
In the annals of entertainment history, Mark Margolis will forever be remembered for his unparalleled contributions to the craft of acting and his ability to convey emotion and depth through nonverbal communication.