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Tim Roth (born 14 May 1961) is an Englishmarker film actor and director best known for his roles in the American films Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms, Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk and Rob Roy, for which he received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He currently stars as Cal Lightman in the TV series Lie to Me.

Early life

Roth was born Timothy Simon Smith in Dulwichmarker, Londonmarker, the son of Ann, a painter and teacher, and Ernie Smith, a journalist, painter and, until the 1970s, a member of the British Communist Party. His father adopted the surname Roth after World War II in order to hide his nationality when travelling in countries hostile to the British.

Roth attended the Strand Schoolmarker in Tulse Hillmarker. As a young man, Roth wanted to be a sculptor and studied at Londonmarker's Camberwell School of Artmarker.


After some time at the Camberwell School of Art, Roth tried acting and made his debut at the age of 21 playing a white power skinhead in a TV movie entitled Made in Britain. Roth played an East Endmarker character in 'King of the Ghetto' which was made by the BBC. This four part drama was shown in 1986 on national television, based on a novel by Farukh Dhondy. The story partly set in Brick Lane, caused a sensation among the public, especially amongst the Bengali community. In 1984, Roth played an apprentice hitman in Stephen Frears' The Hit with Terence Stamp and John Hurt, earning an Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer. With that recognition, he appeared in several other films during the end of the decade. In 1989 he had a memorable supporting role as the buffoonish lackey, Mitchell, in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. In 1990, Roth began to enjoy international attention with starring roles as Vincent van Gogh in Robert Altman's Vincent & Theo and Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

Roth impressed director Quentin Tarantino and was cast as Mr. Orange in his 1992 ensemble piece Reservoir Dogs. This film paved the way for more work in Hollywood. In 1994, Tarantino cast him again as a robber in the acclaimed Pulp Fiction. They worked again in the 1995 movie Four Rooms, where Roth played the extremely physically animated role of "Ted the Bellhop". Roth was very successful playing viciously evil English nobleman Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy opposite Liam Neeson. For that role he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe nomination, and won a British Academy Award.

In 1996, he went a different way, starring with Drew Barrymore in Woody Allen's musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You. He also starred as Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900 (or just "1900") in the movie The Legend of 1900. Also in 1996, he co-starred with the late Tupac Shakur in the drama Gridlock'd. In 1999 he made a critically acclaimed debut as a director with The War Zone, a film of Alexander Stuart's novel. In 2001, he made another important move by portraying General Thade in Tim Burton's blockbuster Planet of the Apes. He was also considered for the part of Hannibal Lecter in the 2001 film Hannibal had Anthony Hopkins not returned to the role.

Roth recently appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth and Michael Haneke's Funny Games. He starred opposite Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk, as Emil Blonsky.

In 2009 he began starring in a new series on Fox called Lie To Me. He plays Dr. Cal Lightman, an expert on body language, whose team assists local and federal law organisations in the investigations of crimes. His character is based on Dr. Paul Ekman, notable psychologist and expert on body language and facial expressions.

Personal life

Roth had a son, Jack, with Lori Baker in 1983. He married Nikki Butler in 1993, and had two sons with her, Timothy Hunter (b. 1995) and Michael Cormac (b. 1996).


As actor

Year Film Role Notes
1982 Made in Britain Trevor the Skinhead
Meantime Colin (TV)
1984 The Hit Myron Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
1985 Murder with Mirrors Edgar Lawson (TV)
Return to Waterloo Boy Punk
1988 A World Apart Harold
To Kill a Priest Feliks
Twice Upon a Time
1989 The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover Mitchel
1990 Vincent & Theo Vincent Van Gogh
Farendj Anton
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Guildenstern
1991 Backsliding Tom Whitton
1992 Reservoir Dogs Mr.Orange/Freddy Newendyke
Jumpin' at the Boneyard Manny
1993 Bodies, Rest & Motion Nick
El Marido perfecto Milan
Murder in the Heartland Charles Starkweather (TV)
1994 Heart of Darkness Marlow (TV)
Captives Philip Chaney
Little Odessa Joshua Shapira Nominated - Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Pulp Fiction 'Ringo' (Credited as 'Pumpkin')
1995 Rob Roy Archibald Cunningham BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role

KCFCC Award for Best Supporting Actor

>Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor

Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Four Rooms Ted the Bellhop
1996 No Way Home Joey
Everyone Says I Love You Charles Ferry
Mocking the Cosmos Myrodemnon/Myron
1997 Gridlock'd Alexander 'Stretch' Rawland Starring Tupac Shakur
Hoodlum Dutch Schultz
Deceiver James Walter Wayland
Animals with the Tollkeeper Henry
1998 Legend of 1900 Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900
2000 The Million Dollar Hotel Izzy Goldkiss
Vatel Marquis de Lauzun
Lucky Numbers Gig
2001 Planet of the Apes Thade Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor

Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
Invincible Hersche Steinschneider alias Erik Jan Hanussen
The Musketeer Febre the Man in Black
2002 Emmett's Mark John Harrett/Frank Dwyer
2003 Whatever We Do Joe
To Kill a King Oliver Cromwell
2004 Nouvelle-France William Pitt
The Beautiful Country Captain Oh
With It "Chicken Louis" Farnatelli
Silver City Mitch Paine
2005 Don't Come Knocking Sutter
Dark Water Jeff Platzer
2006 Tsunami: The Aftermath Nick Fraser (TV)
2007 Even Money Victor
Youth Without Youth Dominic
Virgin Territory Gerbino
2008 Funny Games George
The Incredible Hulk Emil Blonsky/Abomination
2009 King Conqueror King Pedro II of Aragon filming
Lie to Me Dr. Cal Lightman (TV Series)
Skellig Skellig

As director


"There's a lot of blood in that film. I think there's only nine pints in a body; we had about four gallons." (on Reservoir Dogs)
"Like going to Liberace's house on acid." (On attending the Academy Awards Ceremony)
"I have a bad time between jobs because I'm always convinced I'll never work again. I think it may be an English thing, this fear of unemployment."
"I never do my own stunts...that's actor nonsense." (around Planet of the Apes filming)
"I was having a great time scaring people." (as Thade in Planet of the Apes)
"The War Zone is right. It's the truth. It's the truth about this subject. And I'm bullet-proof on that. Probably more so than I will be on any other film that I make as a director."


  1. Tim Roth Biography (1961-)
  2. Tim Roth: Press
  3. Tim Roth Biography

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