Alfred Molina on the Museum He Never Misses When He’s in New York

After more than 30 years in Los Angeles, Alfred Molina is enjoying his newly minted status as an Upper West Sider.

“My wife and I have bought an apartment here, and we’re slowly transitioning to New York,” he said last month at Lincoln Center Theater before a rehearsal for the Chekhov classic “Uncle Vanya,” which opens on Broadway on Wednesday.

Molina, 70, has been nominated for three Tony Awards, for “Art,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and, most recently, “Red,” in which he starred as the painter Mark Rothko in 2010. “Vanya,” in which he plays the pompous professor Alexander Serebryakov, is his return to a New York stage after nearly 15 years.

The play is “a chance to work with some fantastic people,” he said of the cast, which includes Steve Carell as Vanya, Jayne Houdyshell as Vanya’s mother, and William Jackson Harper as the local doctor Astrov. It is directed by Lila Neugebauer, and after Molina saw two other plays she worked on this year, “Appropriate” and “The Ally,” he said, “they both just knocked me out, so it was a no-brainer.”

Molina, who is originally from London, shared his favorite walk in New York, why he loves the subway, and a Jonathan Groff-inspired song lyric that he came up with seemingly on the spot. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.


Jazz in the Morning

I like to start my day with something bright and fast, like Art Pepper or Dexter Gordon. I’ve listened to jazz since I was a teenager — I wasn’t good at sport or popular with the girls, but I loved music, particularly Black American music. I used to read the music papers — the weekly Melody Maker, the New Musical Express — and whenever a review of a band or album used the word “jazz,” I would try to listen to it.

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