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Tim Roth: 'My kids tell me how awful I am in something ... they love that'

He's starred in some of Hollywood's biggest movies, but Tim Roth is making a return to the small screen in Tin Star

By Gemma Dunn

Fifteen years ago, Tim Roth made the executive decision never to watch his own work. "I know what I look like", quips the British actor, who rose to global fame with roles in Quentin Tarantino's films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. "Unless I get trapped - and I've been trapped in Cannes, where you can't get out - it's not for me, it's for you guys."

Stopping has made the process a lot easier, he claims: "I don't read anything that you write, I don't watch anything relating to it at all. I just move on to the next job."

Instead, the straight-talking star (56), awaits the verdict from his own personal critics.

"My kids (Roth shares one son with his ex-wife and has two sons with his current wife) break the news to me quite often about how awful I am in something - oh, they love that," he says with a chuckle.

"They used to watch the Lie To Me thing in the kitchen on the little telly in the corner. But they give me such a hard time about it," he adds. "It's nice when their mates all get into something and they let you know you did all right."

So, is the verdict out on his latest project, Tin Star?

"They saw the trailer the other day and they really liked it," he says, grinning.

A Sky Original Production, Tin Star - written by acclaimed screenwriter Rowan Joffe and starring Christina Hendricks - is set to make an impression as the broadcaster's new epic, revenge-fuelled drama.

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Canadian Rockies in the idyllic, but troubled small town of Little Big Bear, the cinematic thriller follows recovering alcoholic and police officer Jim Worth (Roth) and his family as they embark on a new life in the mountains.

But tranquillity is short-lived as the arrival of workers from a new oil refinery leads to a wave of drugs, prostitution, organised crime and a horrific result for the family.

It was a page-turner that Roth, despite his protests, simply couldn't put down.

"I wasn't looking for it. I didn't want it", confides the Bafta award winner, who was dubbed part of the 'Brit Pack' after migrating to Hollywood along with the likes of Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis in the 1980s.

"I'd done television before and I wasn't looking for another one, but I thought it had an insanity about it and an anarchy about the character that I thought would be fun to play. And so I went for it."

Referring to Jim as having a "Jekyll and Hyde vibe", Roth reveals he had to play "very different versions of the same man".

"There is a monstrous confusion to the character that I think is fun to play," he elaborates. "But there are common denominators that anchor him, however wild he goes: his wife and daughter (played by Genevieve O'Reilly and Abigail Lawrie, respectively) are the gravity of his whole character.

"One of the most powerful things about the show is the family dynamic. As wild as it gets, that is what holds it together."

However, it wasn't until he landed on set in Calgary that he understood why Jim and others in his profession would be seduced by the lifestyle.

"Local policemen would come up and say hello and they'd be from Yorkshire," Roth begins. "There is an open door policy for policemen who work in England to go and work there when they've just had enough of this, and we did meet them - although they were armed to the teeth, a lot of them.

"Mostly, what they deal with is drunk drivers and breaking up fights. It's an easier option than what they've been through."

Did working in the Rockies come with its own set of challenges?

"The altitude for me was a challenge," shares the former Londoner. "Some people don't really get hit by it, but the pressure change was hard. And you could see the Chinooks - oh man, you could see these different weather systems coming in and that was scary.

"But we were always busy. When you weren't busy, that's when it got to you. You really just needed to be busy the whole time and work through the week."

Does the long-time Californian resident, who in recent years has bagged credits such as Twin Peaks, Rillington Place and Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, see himself predominantly following the big screen?

"Well, that snobbery between TV and film has gone now. I think that attitude disappeared very quickly in Britain. I think we were the first ones to do it; we had Ken Loach and all of those guys, so that was the high end for us.

"But this is the first time I have done a continuous series with evolving episodes. You have to think about the whole arc of the character, which is very difficult. But it does feel like you are growing as you go - like, what the hell are you going to do next?

"That is the excitement that should be in play for the audience and also for the actors, as we discover where we are going. It is tricky, but I think that it is a fascinating format."

If Marvel fans were hoping to one day see Roth reprise his Incredible Hulk role as the Abomination, however, he'd rather they didn't get their hopes up.

"I got quoted recently as saying 'I don't think I'll ever do it'. I just don't see it happening again, but it can happen if they want me.

"It's the Marvel Universe now, so it's tricky, but I know what they were planning for the Abomination. I know how they would do it, I just don't think it will end up being part of what they want.

"I could be completely wrong. It would be a laugh - I'd have a go, oh yeah."

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