(CNN) — Mark Margolis, a veteran actor known for his performances on “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” has died, his son, actor and Knitting Factory Entertainment CEO Morgan Margolis, told CNN in a statement.
Margolis died Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City following a short illness, according to his son. He was 83.
Margolis received an Emmy nomination in 2012 for portraying Hector “Tio” Salamanca in “Breaking Bad.” Tio, a fan-favorite character, was a former cartel enforcer who communicated using a brass bell attached to his wheelchair. He later played Tio as a younger man, before he was in a wheelchair, in the prequel series “Better Call Saul.”
“It was a marvelous creature! The fact that he didn’t have any words was not an issue for me,” Margolis told Time in 2013 of the role. “I was delighted not to have to learn any lines. I mean, I had to know what was going on, I had to 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 memorizing anything.”
Margolis also appeared in “Scarface,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” and “Oz,” among many other titles spanning back to 1976. He worked often with director Darren Aronofsky and appeared in six of his movies.
The actor studied under legendary acting teacher Stella Adler in New York.
Though he had well more than 100 film and television credits, Margolis found the staying power of his performance as Tio surprising.
“I can’t get down a street 50 feet without taking a picture or signing an autograph! I was just supposed to be on for one episode,” he said in the same 2013 interview. “After the second season, I didn’t know anyone who knew the show, but after the third season — it just blew up.”
Best known for his portrayals as villains, Margolis in actuality was described as humorous and self-deprecating.
“There are three guys a day that stop me and the only thing they know me from is ‘Scarface.’ I always say, ‘My God, you’re talking about something from 30 years ago,’” Margolis told Vulture in 2016. “I’m a curmudgeon and I get into these things with people. I should just shut up. It makes you feel like they retired you for some reason. It shouldn’t pain me, but I’m a little bit unhinged. Insecure is probably the word.”
Margolis joked about being known for his “Breaking Bad” bell-ringing skills when he was hired to be in a commercial for an Apple watch app.
“I don’t do many commercials. I didn’t know why anybody wanted me, and it’s because the thing is called Dingbel and it dings a bell,” Margolis recalled to Vulture. “I tell people I’m the second-most famous bell ringer after Quasimodo. It’s me and Quasimodo.”
But the joys of acting were not lost on Margolis either. In a sit-down interview with his “Better Call Saul” costar Jonathan Banks last year, he said of his craft, “The wonderful thing about it is, I used to be so shy, I didn’t even talk, and (was) closed off. It liberates me. It gives me things, allows me to do things I could never do in my life. I love it very much.”
Margolis is survived by his his wife, Jacqueline, his son and several grandchildren.
Later on Friday, Cranston posted a tribute to Margolis on Instagram, writing, “Mark Margolis was a really good actor and a lovely human being. Fun and engaging off the set, and (in the case of Breaking Bad and Your Honor) intimidating and frightening on set.”
“His quiet energy belied his mischievous nature and curious mind,” Cranston continued. “And he loved sharing a good joke. I miss him already. Rest now, Mark and thank you for your friendship and your exceptional body of work.”
Aronofsky also took to social media in honor of the actor, who appeared in his films “Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Fountain,” among others. The director called Margolis “a friend, a mentor, a true new yorker, and a great great artist.”
“i love you mark and i am so grateful for everything you contributed to the world,” Aronofsky added.
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