Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul actor Mark Margolis dies at 83

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Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul actor Mark Margolis dies at 83

Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul veteran actor Mark Margolis has died at the age of 83, according to his family.

Best known in the role of Hector Salamanca on both series, he played a drug cartel member who uses a wheelchair after a stroke.

He passed away in a New York City hospital on Thursday after a short illness, his son said in a statement.

Margolis also had acting credits in films such Scarface, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and HBO series Oz.

In the Emmy-nominated role of Salamanca, Margolis portrayed a hyper-violent gangster who is unable to speak and uses only a bell and facial expressions to communicate.

The Breaking Bad Facebook account paid tribute to him, posting: “We join millions of fans in mourning the passing of the immensely talented Mark Margolis, who – with his eyes, a bell, and very few words – turned Hector Salamanca into one of the most unforgettable characters in the history of television.

“He will be missed.”

Mr Margolis, who grew up in Philadelphia, also featured in films such as Going in Style, Dressed to Kill, and Arthur.

He also had roles in six films by director Darren Aronofsky.

“I am just a journeyman actor,” he said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

He moved to New York at a young age and studied under famous acting coach Stella Adler.

Despite having over 70 film credits – spanning five decades – he said that there were times when he struggled as a performer in his earlier years.

“Truth to tell, six months after Scarface,” he once said, “I had to take a job with a real estate development friend for a few months just to get by.”

He said that the Salamanca character was in part inspired by his mother-in-law, who also was unable to speak after a stroke.

“We used to visit her, and she couldn’t speak. But she’d get excited when we came in the room, and the left side of her mouth would always do these contortions where the lips would push out, almost like she was chewing tobacco. So I kind of stole that from her.”

In a 2013 interview, he told Time magazine that he enjoyed the challenge of acting without speaking.

“It was a marvellous creature! The fact that he didn’t have any words was not an issue for me,” he said.

“I was delighted not to have to learn any lines. I mean, I had to know what was going on, I had my cues, but the fact that I didn’t have to master lines was great. I got to fly out to New Mexico and not worry about memorising anything.”

Colleagues of his also paid tribute online.

“Mark made me laugh every time we were together on set,” wrote writer Thomas Schnauz, who worked with him on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

“My love to his family and many, many friends,” he added.

Peter Gould, one of the co-creators of Better Call Saul, tweeted: “Absolutely devastated to hear that we’ve lost Mark Margolis.

“Mark was brilliant, funny, a raconteur with a million stories. I miss him already.”