In Tin Star, Tim Roth gets to play both a nice guy and a menace. His character, Jim Worth, is an ex-Metropolitan Police detective who has moved with his family to the Rocky Mountains to start a new life as a local police chief in an idyllic rural community. He is a committed cop, a family man, a sober alcoholic. But give him a drink, and a darker side emerges – his former undercover persona, Jack Devlin, takes over. As a consequence of letting down his family in the past, he’s racked with a guilt that takes him to Little Big Bear where they can start afresh, but even in a remote mountain town, his past finds a way to catch up with him. In the end, Jim’s greatest adversary is himself.
Season one of Tin Star is now available to stream in full at SBS On Demand.
In a career spanning almost thirty years, Roth has played a fair few nice guys – but it’s as a menace that he’s really made his mark.
The Hit (1984)
As the younger and nastier of two hit men (the other being John Hurt) taking Terence Stamp’s informer back to face the mob boss he betrayed, Roth’s first film role made two things clear: he could hold his own against the big guns of British acting, and he had no trouble handling himself when it came to on-screen violence.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
Roth’s big successes in the late '80s came as one half of a double act. Robert Altman’s Vincent & Theo gained him some attention, but it was opposite Gary Oldman in Tom Stoppard’s look at Hamlet from the point of view of two minor players where he really made a splash.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
In his first team-up with Quentin Tarantino, Roth spent a large slice of the film stuck to the floor with fake blood. It still made him a star.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Back again with Tarantino, this time Roth played one half of a coffee shop-robbing duo whose heist began (and ended) the film. Roth’s since become something of a Tarantino regular: he also appeared in The Hateful Eight (2015), and has a role in the director’s upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Rob Roy (1995)
Roth gives one of the '90s’ best bad guy performances here as the smarmy English aristocrat determined to take down highland rebel Rob Roy. Unfortunately for him, Rob Roy is played by Liam Neeson, whose set of skills here involves being excellent in a sword fight.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Roth almost (but not quite) manages to make the worst ever Planet of the Apes movie worth watching with his extremely villainous turn as the amazingly evil General Thade. Sad fact: Roth had to pass up the role of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (it went to Alan Rickman) because he’d committed to this.
Youth Without Youth (2007)
Just in case you were thinking “wait, Tim Roth was in a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola? I’ve got to check that out!”, don’t. Roth does his best as an ageing professor who becomes young again after being struck by lightning, but otherwise it’s a bit of a mess.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Not to be confused with Ang Lee’s Hulk, or the current Marvel Universe films where the Hulk is played by Mark Ruffalo, this is the largely forgotten one where Edward Norton hulks out. Playing super-powered bad guy The Abomination, this is Roth’s only superhero movie appearance to date. He said he took on the role to please his sons.
Seriously, despite what this list might suggest Roth doesn’t always play bad guys – he was amazing as a caring single dad in 2012’s Broken, and he was Prince Rainier in the not so great Grace of Monaco – but as the racist Governor George Wallace here, he was once again excellent.
Twin Peaks season 3 (2017)
Tin Star isn’t Roth’s first TV work; he was the crime-solving “deception expert” in three seasons of Lie to Me for one. But his appearance on season three of Twin Peaks was like a greatest hits package, as he got to once again play one half of a deadly double act, this time opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh.
The full season of Tin Star is now available at SBS On Demand.
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