English vet is no foolish dad

The perfect storm of good circumstances” is how Alfred Molina describes his involvement with “An Education.” “It was a confluence of both artistic and practical considerations. Nick Hornby’s script was really great, but on top of that, the shoot fit in nicely between two other jobs, and it gave me the chance to get over to England (where) I have grandchildren.”

Despite his immediate interest in portraying Jack Mellor — the father of the film’s main character, 16-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan), who falls hard for David (Peter Sarsgaard), a much older man — Molina was concerned about “misrepresenting” the character.

“It could have been very easy to play Jack as a fool or one-dimensionally, but he’s really a very sympathetic man who wants the very best for his daughter,” Molina says. “What lets him down is the narrowness of his vision and own experiences as well as his lack of knowledge.”

Having been just 8 years old in 1961, when the film takes place, Molina did his research on the era and consulted both Hornby and helmer Lone Scherfig to get details for him to work with in establishing the character.

“I love to ask questions and find out what the director is thinking. For me it’s a big part of the process. It puts flesh on the bones of what the director and writer envision.”

It was Jack’s ultimate reaction to David’s deception that convinced Molina that the character had shades of gray.

“When Jack says, ‘David’s not what we thought he was,’ that made him not so much a buffoon but instead a man with some real depth and contradiction. That’s a sign of a good character.”

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