Nationality: British. Born: Dulwich, London, England, 14 May 1961; moved to United States, 1990. Education: Dick Sheppard Comprehensive School; Brixton and Camberwell College of Art, London. Family: One son, Jack (born 1983), with former long-term partner Lori Baker; married Nikki Butler (1993); one son, Timothy Hunter Roth (born 1995). Career: Acting debut in school production of Dracula ; began acting at Glasgow Citizen's Theatre, The Oval House, and The Royal Court Theatre; quit theatre because of stage fright; reputedly still works behind the bar between acting jobs; debut as director, The War Zone , 1999. Awards: British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, for Rob Roy , 1996; Edinburgh International Film Festival Award for Best New British Feature, Berlin International Film Festival CICAE Award, European Discovery of the Year Award, European Film Awards, Troia Award, Festroia-Troia International Film Festival, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival Jury Award for Best Director and Best First Feature, and Valladolid (Spain) International Film Festival Silver Spike, all for director of The War Zone , 1999.
Made in Britain (Clarke—for TV) (as Trevor)
Meantime (Leigh—for TV) (as Colin)
The Hit (Frears) (as Myron)
Return to Waterloo (Davies) (as Boy Punk)
Metamorphosis (Goddard—for TV) (as Gregor Samsa)
A World Apart (Menges) (as Harold); To Kill a Priest ( Le Complot ) (Holland) (as Felix)
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (Greenaway) (as Mitchel)
Vincent and Theo (Altman) (as Vincent van Gogh); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Stoppard) (as Guildenstern); Farendj (Prenzina); Yellowbacks (Battersby—for TV) (as Peter Pike)
Jumpin' at the Boneyard (Stanzler) (as Manny); Backsliding (Target) (as Tom Whitton)
El Marido Perfecto ( The Perfect Husband ) (Feijoo) (as Milan); Common Pursuit (Morahan—for TV) (as Nick); Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino) (as Freddy Newendyke/Mr. Orange)
Bodies, Rest and Motion (Steinberg) (as Nick); Murder in the Heartland (Markowitz—for TV) (as Charles Starkweather)
Who Do You Think You're Fooling? (White) (as Mr. Orange/Chow); Little Odessa (Gray) (as Joshua Shapiro); Heart of Darkness (Roeg—for TV) (as Marlow); Captives (Pope) (as Philip Chaney); Pulp Fiction (Tarantino) (as Pumpkin (Ringo)
Rob Roy (Caton-Jones) (as Archibald Cunningham); Four Rooms (Anders, Rockwell, Rodrigues, Tarantino) (as Ted the Bell Hop)
No Way Home (Giovinazzo) (as Joey); Mocking the Cosmos (as Myron); Everyone Says I Love You (Allen) (as Charles Ferry)
Animals and the Toll Keeper (Di Jiacomo) (as Henry); Gridlock'd (Curtis-Hall) (as Stretch); Hoodlum (Duke) (as Dutch Schulz); Deceiver ( Liar ) (Jonas and Joshua Pate) (as Wayland)
La Leggenda del pianista sull'oceano ( The Legend of 1900 ) ( The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean ) (Tornatore) (as Novecento)
The Million Dollar Hotel (Wenders) (as Izzy Goldkiss [uncredited]); Vatel (Joffé) (Le Marquis de Lauzun); Numbers (Ephron) (as Gig)
"The Men's Room," interview with Amy Taubin, in Sight and Sound (London), 2 December 1992.
"Rushes: Tim Roth," interview with Veronica Chambers in Premiere (New York), February 1993.
"English Punk Gets Juiced on American Pulp," interview in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 30 June 1995.
"Englishman in Los Angeles," interview with Brett Anwar in Film Review (New York), June 1995.
"Roth 'N' Roll," interview with Cathy Hoyrn in Vanity Fair (New York), September 1995.
"Revenge of the Working Class," interview with Tim Rice and Tom Allen, in MovieMaker , January/February 1996.
"Big Tim Roth," interview with Theresa Sturley in Interview Magazine (New York), February 1997.
"Welcome to My Nightmare," interview with S. Danielson, in Sight and Sound (London), 9 August 1999.
Goldstein, Patrick, "The Japes of Roth," in Premiere (New York), 8 April 1995.
Stahl, Jerry, "The Devil in Tim Roth," in Esquire (New York), May 1995.
Bielby, Matt, "The Greats of Roth," in Total Film (London), July 1997.
Mosley, John, "UnAmerican Psycho," in Total Film (London), July 1997.
Stuart, Alexander, "A Brief History With Tim," in The Guardian (London), 15 August 1999.
Romney, Jonathan, "The War Zone," in Film Comment (New York), November 1999.
Bahr, David, "A Brand-New Director Takes on an Age-Old Taboo," in New York Times , 28 November 1999.
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An English character actor who has made his name playing American toughs, Tim Roth is devoted to independent filmmaking and the promotion of new directorial talent. Leaving school with few qualifications, Roth initially signed up for a course at art college, but quit soon after to try his luck as an actor, despite having no formal training. By attending auditions whenever they were advertised in the trade papers, and with the help of bar-work and "dole" money when he was unemployed, Roth managed to establish himself as a stage actor. He moved into films partly because the opportunity presented itself, and partly because of severe stage fright, but although he can now command large fees from the major studios, most of his work has been with independents. His own directorial debut, The War Zone (1999), is a characteristically uncompromising film, about a teenager who discovers an incestuous relationship between his sister and their father. It has been praised for the quality of the direction, which creates a suitably claustrophobic sense of isolation, entrapment, and loss.
Having grown up with politically active left-leaning parents in south London, Roth is interested in making films that take a realistic approach to poverty and violence. His first film appearance was as an alienated neo-nazi skinhead in Alan Clarke's film, Made in Britain , which attempted to depict the social breakdown that took place in Britain in the early 1980s. Roth cites the socialist filmmaker Clarke as his greatest influence, and the person who inspired him to pursue filmmaking as a career. He spent the next seven years appearing in low-budget British films, such as Meantime , The Hit , and Return to Waterloo , generally playing the part of punks and other alienated characters.
After appearing in Peter Greenaway's brutal parable, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover , Roth made his first foray into American cinema in 1990, playing Vincent van Gogh in Robert Altman's Vincent and Theo. His much-lauded performance was the beginning of a new phase in Roth's career, and although he visits Britain about twice a year, since 1992 he has been based permanently in the United States. Even so, Roth remained loyal to independent filmmaking, avoiding being cast as the English-accented villain by meticulously studying American accents and taking Gary Oldman's advice to make the accent very specific so that if you slip up "you'd only slip out of state, not across the pond."
It was in 1992 that his role as the wounded undercover cop, "Mr Orange," in Quentin Tarantino's debut Reservoir Dogs brought him fame and notoriety in America. In one of the longest death scenes in movie history, Roth's character spends almost the whole film slowly bleeding in the corner of a warehouse in which an armed gang takes refuge after a failed robbery. The pool of blood that expands around his prostrate body measures time running out for the gang as they bicker in the foreground. Perhaps what is most impressive about his performance in the film is his depiction of intense pain conflicting with frustration at being unable to resolve the situation and get to a hospital.
Roth has worked with Tarantino twice since, as Pumpkin, the stickup man in Pulp Fiction , and in the comedy Four Rooms , in which he plays a hotel bellhop, a character who ties together four short films each made by a different director. He has also had success with directors as diverse as Tom Stoppard and Woody Allen, and in roles as different as van Gogh and a TV salesman in Bodies, Rest and Motion. Even so, he has acquired a reputation for playing violent heavies, despite the fact that he stands only five-feet seven-inches tall, and is by all accounts a kind and compassionate man.
Reservoir Dogs is the most successful of Roth's performances for first-time directors, but he has made a habit of choosing projects with new filmmakers, such as Jeff Stanzler and James Gray. That is not to say that he is entirely antagonistic towards Hollywood. As evidenced by Rob Roy , which he says earned him his first proper paycheck, and also an Oscar nomination, Roth's attitude towards commercial Hollywood filmmaking is pragmatic: he admires actors like Harvey Keitel who work for the studios in order to free themselves for less popular and more challenging projects. Although he now earns a good living and can choose more carefully the projects he takes on, he still sums up his general approach thus: "You either want to get rich, or you want to be an actor."