Tim Roth: “Villains have an impact”


Known for portraying intense characters, the Hateful Eight actor explains why you shouldn’t be afraid of being a bad guy.

One of the great character actors of his generation, Tim Roth displays such skill and nuance that he’s become a favourite with moviegoers despite playing a vile assortment of killers, creeps and cunningly awful miscreants. In Quentin Tarantino’s latest gorefest, The Hateful Eight, he portrays a hangman who, conveniently, can also handle a gun quite well. Here, the 54-year-old discusses why it’s important – and a hell of a lot of fun – to creatively explore the dark corners of life.

Red Bulletin: We found a photo gallery online of your performances. In 80 per cent of them, you’re holding either a gun or a sword. What attracts you to being the bad guy?

Tim Roth: The first role I played was that of a Nazi skinhead. I was the kid who got bullied at school. I was always on the run. I knew how to play the bullies from watching them.

What does it say about us as a society that we remember the bad guy instead of the contemplative character?

It depends what you’re going to the cinema for. That kind of scenery-chewing stuff, if it’s done well, it’s such fun to sit in the audience and watch. As Quentin says, you’re going to the movies, it’s not public TV.

“As Quentin Tarantino says; you’re going to the movies, it’s not public TV”

There’s a lot of dark humour in Quentin Tarantino’s work. You grimace, then you laugh. Does that make it less intense?

It’s not creepy on set – actually, most of the time, you’re laughing your ass off. The Hateful Eight, which is set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, is funny, and incredibly timely. When we were doing the read-through for the film, that’s when the Baltimore protests were going on. It was quite shocking, honestly. It just makes the movie even more poignant.


It seems like a way to double the impact: playing the memorable bad guy in a movie with a message. Is it important to you to seek out roles that have a broader social commentary?

It’s better if they do. But then sometimes you’re just doing crap. [Laughs.]

“It’s just better if acting roles have a broader social impact. But then sometimes you’re just doing crap”

Do you ever take the roles home with you?

My wife sometimes goes, “Oh God, you look spooky right now.” That’s happened a few times. There was one time when I was working with director Michael Haneke and we were doing home invasion hostage drama Funny Games. Oh boy, that was a tough one. It was very depressing. When I read it, I didn’t want to do it. I watched the German-language version and I was like, “Oh sh-t.”

How did you disassociate yourself afterwards?

I got a plane and went away. Next!

Find the full article on www.redbulletin.com, including a confession from Tim Roth on one character he would love to play in the future as well as details on his next role as a father seeking the truth behind his son’s death in Iraq. 

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