Tim Roth Biography
Born: May 14, 1961
Date of Birth: May 14, 1961
British actor Tim Roth (birth name: Timothy Simon Smith) was born to a journalist father and painter-turned-teacher mother. Frequently bullied in elementary school, high school proved to be equally hellish. His one high point came when, on a lark, Tim auditioned for his high school's musical production of Dracula. Cast as the Count himself, Tim, 16, had a bad case of stage fright and allegedly wet his pants when he walked onstage on opening night.
After graduation, Tim enrolled at London's Camberwell School of Art to study sculpture, but quit when it became clear that clay and wire paled in comparison to scripts and stages. He continued honing his chosen craft with plays performed in small theaters and pubs. Two years later, in 1983, Tim won his first television role as a skinhead in the BBC movie Made in Britain. The following year he landed his first feature role, portraying a hired killer in director Stephen Frears' The Hit (1984).
After solidifying a reputation for portraying off-kilter chaps, notably in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) and Vincent and Theo (1990), Roth moved to Los Angeles.
There, he made the acquaintance of aspiring director Quentin Tarantino. After a drunken night of bar-hopping, Tim, who as a rule never reads for a role, gave an alcohol-fueled audition that convinced Tarantino to cast him in Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Tarantino's directing debut made an art-house star out of Roth, who gave an arresting performance as the fatally-wounded policeman Mr. Orange.
Two years later, Tarantino and Tim collaborated again with Pulp Fiction (1994), in which Tim appeared in the bookend role of a thief in a restaurant diner. He followed that up with his first part in a movie from a mainstream studio, Rob Roy (1995). Directed by pal Michael Caton-Jones, Tim's turn as the scenery-chewing villain opposite Jessica Lange and Liam Neeson, won him an Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category. Without hesitation, he returned to independent filmmaking to portray yet another hitman, in Little Odessa (1995), and the plot-connecting bellboy in Four Rooms (1995).
Tim then delivered performances as an ex-con seeking reform in No Way Home, as a singing ex-con in the Woody Allen musical Everyone Says I Love You, and as a junkie in Gridlock'd. He continued in a criminal vein with his creditable turn as brutal racketeer Dutch Schultz in 1997's Hoodlum, and as a manipulative Southern blueblood accused of the brutal murder of a prostitute in 1998's Deceiver. That same year he also starred as a mysterious piano player in The Legend of 1900, an heir to a fortune accused of murder in Liar and a despairing cab driver in Animals (and the Tollkeeper).
In 1999, he unleashed his directorial debut film, The War Zone. Based on a novel by Alexander Stuart, the film delineates in brooding detail the incest-fueled meltdown of a family.
In 2009, Tim went mainstream, accepting the starring role in the Fox-TV series Lie to Me, playing Dr. Cal Lightman - the world's leading deception expert who is called on to help solve crimes. The series ran a solid three seasons and although Dr. Lightman started off as a straight-laced businessman, he slowly grew stranger over the course of the series' run, likely due to Tim's influence over the character.
When the series concluded, Tim returned to the big screen in films such as the thriller Arbitrage (2012) alongside Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. He also played Southern politician Governor George Wallace in the historical drama Selma (2014) with a healthy dose of vitriol, and a hangman in Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015). He appeared in the quirky hitman comedy Mr. Right (2016) followed by Tarantino's latest movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).
Tim lives in a more reclusive part of Hollywood and commemorates significant events in his life with tattoos on his right arm. Among the markings are tributes to his fashion designer wife, Nikki Butler, whom he met at Sundance in 1992, and their two sons, Timothy and Cormac. He also sports a tat for son Jack, born 11 years earlier during a previous relationship.