Actor Nadiv Molcho on Playing a Villain for the First Time

For Nadiv Molcho, landing the role of one of the villains in the upcoming Netflix film "Trigger Warning" was an unexpected and thrilling opportunity.
June 19, 2024
Nadiv Molcho attends the screening of Netflix Film “Trigger Warning” at Netflix Tudum Theater on June 11, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix)

For Nadiv Molcho, landing the role of one of the villains in the upcoming Netflix film “Trigger Warning” was an unexpected and thrilling opportunity.

The movie stars Jessica Alba as a special forces commando avenging her father’s death and squaring off with a ruthless gang swarming her hometown. According to IMDB, the screenwriters pitched the script as “female versions of ‘First Blood’ and ‘John Wick’ mixed together.”

For Molcho, his role as Beck in “Trigger Warning” is the first time in his career playing a villain on screen.

“Playing one of the bad guys was always something I was intrigued by,” Molcho told The Journal. “To think that my first time portraying one of the villains in a Hollywood picture would come with a deep southern accent, a goatee beard and rocking some cowboy boots (alongside the great Jessica Alba), is beyond surprising. As a Jew from Vienna Austria, I’d say I’ve come a long way from home.”

The 34-year-old actor has indeed traveled a long and winding road to get to this point in his career. Born and raised in the Austrian capital with three older brothers and parents from Tel Aviv, his 88-year-old father, Samy Molcho, is a renowned Israeli-Austrian mime.

“I’ll forever be a proud European, but my parents are both from Israel,” Molcho said. “So when I fly to Tel Aviv where we have a lot of family and we have an apartment there, I feel so viscerally connected to the environment in Israel, the air, the semitic culture, the traditional stuff. I feel Israeli in many ways, more so when I’m in Vienna, because I stand out like a black sheep there. And when I’m in Tel Aviv, I feel more foreign where I say I want to fit in. I do feel it’s part of my genetics and DNA. But I come in with this, ‘we’re Austrian and I live in the U.S. now,’ so I never know really where I feel at home. And I guess up until today, I’m still searching for that. That being said, me being Jewish and connecting with other Jewish people around the world gives me a sense of home, no matter the city. But why I love going home to Vienna, as beautiful a city as it is, is because my family is there. My three older brothers, my parents, my nephew, now my friends. And then I go to Tel Aviv and it gives me a sense of home and belonging as well. Talking about community, being Jewish there, having Israeli parents makes me feel that that is a big part of my identity. I love LA so much, but when I’m on set, or even on stage as a standup comedian, the most I feel at home away from actual cities is when I’m on set filming a movie or a show. That’s where I really am the freest.”

As a kid, Molcho attended the Vienna International School, where his closest friends were from around the world. It was there that his love for acting took root, with his first on-screen role coming at the age of 10 in the NBC television film, “Uprising.” It was shot in Bratislava, Slovakia, about 50 miles east of Vienna. It was about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and starred Leelee Sobieski, Jon Voight and David Schwimmer.

In 2008, after he finished high school, Molcho went on to study acting in New York at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He moved to Los Angeles and threw himself head-first into auditioning and making friends with other creatives. He ended up living with friend and fellow actor Jeff Wilbusch. They even made a nickname for their apartment.

“We call it the ‘audition factory,’” Molcho said. It earned the name from the number of remote Zoom auditions they did as Los Angeles dug out from the pandemic restrictions. They supported each other in their endeavors. Molcho worked with Wilbusch on his audition for the Peacock police drama series “The Calling,”— and Wilbusch got the starring role. Wilbusch returned the favor when Molcho was auditioning for Netflix’s 2023 historical drama series “Transatlantic.” The idea behind their shared home was to create an environment akin to what the late Heath Ledger had — a creative space with artists and friends constantly coming and going. Molcho was inspired after watching a documentary about Ledger’s life.

“What was so beautiful was that [Ledger] had all these artists and friends coming in and out of the house and a space to be creative,” Molcho said. “And Jeff and I are adults, and I normally wouldn’t live with roommates anymore, but something about being in this city, L.A. and us being transplants here, just really love living together.”

The “audition factory” house became a creative hub where they could workshop audition tapes, share notes, and support each other’s artistic endeavors. It’s an unconventional living situation, but one that has obviously paid dividends, with both actors landing high-profile roles like Wilbusch in “Unorthodox,” and “Schächten,” and Molcho in “Freud,” “Transatlantic” and now “Trigger Warning.”

“I am eternally grateful that I have been so welcomed by this beautiful, creative community here in Los Angeles,” Molcho said.

With “Trigger Warning” one of the most anticipated action thrillers of the summer (the trailer has racked up over 1 million views in just two weeks), Molcho is eager to see how audiences respond to his portrayal of a villain and his fellow production mates work.

Audiences, he said can expect to be “wildly entertained — I mean, come on, it’s Jessica Alba kicking ass! But I feel they will equally be in awe of her nuanced performance as well as the entire look and feel of this film. Mouly Surya, our director, and Zoë White, our cinematographer, created a visual atmosphere that doesn’t only keep you on the edge of your seat for action purposes, but for the stunning backdrop of this movie.”

More than just the high-octane action, however, it’s the personal connections fostered during filming “Trigger Warning” that have really made an impact on the young actor.

“I instantly felt welcomed [to the cast] as if I was a part of the family (yes, even though I play a baddie),” Molcho said. “They were all so welcoming on and off the set. I was invited into some of their homes, made new friendships and ultimately had a kind, generous and safe on-set environment. I felt equally as connected to our wonderful crew, the producers and everyone in between.

Getting to play a role unlike any other he’s played before has been an incredibly validating experience.

“When I had the dream to become an actor in the US as a seven year old, waking up to this reality today is mind boggling,” Molcho said. “I feel we all have interesting stories to tell— I’m just glad I get to unravel mine in front of you all on your screens.”

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