Hector "Tio" Salamanca is a longtime member of the Mexican drug cartel and the uncle of Walt and Jesse's former distributor Tuco. Now old and infirm, Tio communicates by ringing a bell attached to his wheelchair. Tio has bad blood with both Walter White and Walt's new distributor, Gus Fring, though for different reasons.
After Tuco kidnaps Walt and Jesse and stashes them at Tio's remote desert shack, Tio catches Walt trying to poison Tuco's food and rings to warn his nephew. Later that day, Tuco dies in a shootout with DEA agent Hank Schrader, who has tracked Jesse's car to the location.
Tio summons Tuco's two Cousins from Mexico to murder Walt in retaliation for Tuco's death. When the Cousins were young, Tio submerged one boy's head underwater and made the other one fight Tio to save him. The incident was Tio's way of illustrating that "Family is all."
Gus angers Tio by intervening with the Cartel on Walt's behalf, and the Cousins grow so impatient that Gus steers them to Hank instead. Gus then double crosses the Cousins by warning Hank of the hit. Gus takes obvious pleasure informing Tio, who's now in a nursing home, that both his nephews died following the ambush.
Gus, it turns out, is pursuing vengeance of his own: In Mexico in 1989, Tio murdered Gus's first meth partner and then forced Gus to watch the man die. "Look at him. You did this to him," taunted Tio at the time.
After Gus poisons Don Eladio and other Cartel members in Mexico, he returns to the nursing home to announce their deaths and that of Tio's grandson. "Now the Salamanca name dies with you," sneers Gus.
Walt convinces Tio to put aside their mutual hatred to take revenge on Gus. Tio lures Gus to the nursing home by appearing to inform to the DEA when he maneuvers a meeting with Hank. Once Gus is there, Tio detonates a bomb attached to his bell, killing Gus, Tio and Gus's operative Tyrus in the blast.
Actor Mark Margolis is most recently on screen as Hector “Tio” Salamanca on AMC’s hit Breaking Bad, in which he plays a former drug kingpin who is unable to speak or walk due to the lingering effects of a stroke.
Margolis was born in November 1939 in Philadelphia, and moved to New York City at a young age to pursue a career in acting. Under the wing of famed acting teacher Stella Adler, who Margolis sees as a “larger than life” influence on his work, he launched his career with an early focus on theater, where he earned major roles in large-scale productions including Infidel Caesar, a Broadway show based on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Shortly thereafter, Margolis founded Blue Dome, a touring theater company that performed avant-garde productions, including Antonin Artaud’s The Conquest of Mexico, at colleges and universities across the United States, largely funded by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Margolis then returned to theater in New York, and appeared in more than fifty plays in New York’s Off-Broadway including Uncle Sam, and The Golem. While he is more focused on film and television these days, he “does plays when he cannot live without them,” which led him to his most recent role as Bernie Madoff in an upstate New York production entitled Imagining Madoff.
Margolis has had many recurring roles on television in addition to Breaking Bad including Oz, The Equalizer and Kings, as well as guest appearances on a number of popular shows including Californication, Person of Interest and Crossing Jordan.
Margolis has an equally illustrious film career that spans over thirty years and includes seventy films, many of which have been critically acclaimed. He is best known for playing Alberto in Scarface and for appearances in all four of Darren Aronofsky’s films, including The Wrestler and Pi, Aronofsky’s first film and one that Margolis considers a favorite.
Margolis was recently nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Guest Performer on Television for his role in Breaking Bad. He credits his ability to play the critically praised Tio on the show, in part, to a family member who he observed and cared for following a paralyzing stroke, a fate similar to that Tio suffers.
Upcoming for Margolis is an appearance in Stand Up Guys opposite Christopher Walken and Al Pacino, which just wrapped in Los Angeles.
Margolis resides in New York City with his wife Jacqueline. They have one son, Morgan Margolis, the CEO of Knitting Factory Entertainment in Los Angeles. He is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio and conducts occasional acting workshops for young actors in New York City.