Tag Archives: Tim Roth

Back from the dead

Tim Roth, Genevieve O’Reilly and Abigail Lawrie talk about returning for a second season of Tin Star, the Sky original drama packed full of twists and turns as a tortured police chief faces new threats in his battle to save his family and find forgiveness for his sins.

The return of Sky original drama Tin Star isn’t so much a second season as a continuation of the fall-out from the events of season one – and from the way it finished, that’s no bad thing.

The first season closed in classic ‘cut to black’ style, echoing the hotly debated finale of iconic gangster drama The Sopranos, with the audience left in the dark as to the fate of the series’ lead character. But while viewers will never know whether Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) escaped the HBO drama’s final instalment alive, the survival of Jim Devlin (Tim Roth) is more assured.

With Jim last seen lying in the snow-covered wilderness of the Rockies with a gunshot wound in his chest courtesy of his daughter, Anna (Abigail Lawrie), season two begins at that exact moment. His family, torn apart by the chaos that followed Jim and his alter-ego Jack in season one, is now more divided than ever.

Tim Roth as Jim Worth in Tin Star

Seeking refuge from her own parents, Anna is taken in by the God-fearing Nickel family, headed up by Pastor Johan (John Lynch), his wife Sarah (Anamaria Marinca) and daughter Rosa (Jenessa Grant) and hidden with the Ammonites – a religious community close to the central fictional town of Little Big Bear.

However, the peaceful prairie family are harbouring secrets of their own, and it’s not long before Anna is forced to seek her father’s help as an altogether more hellish threat emerges during the 10-episode season. If Jim is to find a way to save his family and atone for his sins, he must form an uneasy alliance.

The first season averaged 1.7 million viewers per episode for Sky Atlantic, making it one of the channel’s best performing originals. More than 16 million downloads and views virtually guaranteed a second run would be commissioned, with the new episodes filmed last year in Calgary, Canada. The series comes from producer Kudos (Humans, Broadchurch) and is distributed by Endemol Shine International and Sky Vision.

“I was really excited to see what they were going to do,” says Genevieve O’Reilly, who plays Jim’s wife and Anna’s mother, Angela Worth. “It ended so explosively; it was really exciting to see if Tim was going to live.”

Turning to Lawrie, Roth jokes: “I think your aim was off. I thought you would have been a better shot.”

Abigail Laurie plays Jim’s daughter Anna

Lawrie responds: “It was a bit low. Well, you didn’t die so it must have been quite off.”

Off screen at least, the Worth family have been reunited ahead of the launch of the second season in the UK tomorrow, and it’s easy to see their ease in each other’s company, having now completed 20 episodes of this slow-burning, often brutal and emotionally demanding drama from creator Rowan Joffe (Before I Go To Sleep, The American).

The show, which launched in 2017, introduced Reservoir Dogs star Roth as former London copper Jim Worth, who has upped sticks along with his family to escape a troubled past by beginning a new life in the Rocky Mountains.

Initially, everything was well, with the new police chief – a former alcoholic – enjoying more time catching fish than criminals in Little Big Bear. But the arrival of a shady oil company, led by Mad Men star Christina Hendricks as Elizabeth Bradshaw, coincides with a past that refuses to fade away, and an attack on his family turns Jim into a one-man wrecking ball on a quest for revenge.

With the chaos that erupted as a result of Jim’s pursuit of justice, events don’t look like toning down this season. Lawrie explains: “At the beginning, they’re all split. Anna needs to get away from her parents. She needs some little bit of stability, some security, and for a time she finds that in the Nickel family, where we find her. She just needs to figure out who her parents are, who she is, what she wants from them and what she wants from herself. She does need to be on her own for bit. But then she realises they’re family and they love each other and they can’t not be together.”

Genevieve O’Reilly also stars in the series, which is set in the Canadian Rockies

For Jim’s part, Roth says his character “loves his wife and his daughter. That’s just the fact of it, and that’s all.” He continues: “What was interesting, that we worked on, was he’s infinitely patient. He’ll just wait. And he’ll annoy the fuck out of you until you just have to come and talk to him. That’s a little bit of where his character is. He will wait, he’s not going anywhere. You’ll never get rid of him. Well, there is one way of doing it – but she missed!”

It’s a story that O’Reilly says is “really brave,” highlighting the ideas and ambition of the series. “It is as big as those mountains. Viewers, particularly who watched the first season, will feel immediately rewarded because of the decision to start off exactly where we finished,” she notes. “I think that will be really satisfying – it certainly was for us – to step back onto that mountain where we tried to kill each other and then have to start again. Where does it go from there? There’s great scope for drama and story within that.”

The cast reveal that on one episode in season one, there was a lot of improvisational work involved, and that has informed a lot of the approach to season two. “They had a concept and then we started to play,” Roth says, noting the freedom he and his fellow actors enjoyed on set. “There were certain [plot] points during the season we had to hit, but we could be very flexible with that. The scripts changed a lot.

“A lot of it was thinking, ‘If this happened to your character, how would your character react? What would they say? What wouldn’t they say?’ That’s something we worked on together as actors as much as possible. Some of the cast don’t like to improvise; they like a much more nailed-down version, so you provide that as best you can. We, as a family, got to be very flexible.”

Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks is among the supporting cast

Lawrie says there was a different approach throughout filming, but because scripts were delivered as filming progressed, “it made everything quite real. It was very immediate, all of our reactions, because we didn’t know what was coming next. I think that helped a lot.”

Roth adds: “I liked it. It was stressful but I embraced the challenge of it. I kind of enjoyed that and it had a chaos to it that I think the family have as well – a wildness. It’s a process that suits the family in a way.”

Returning to Calgary for the shoot, which was completed last August, felt like returning to family, O’Reilly states, describing the “beautiful team of people” the producers put together to make the show.

“They worked so hard, in extraordinary conditions,” she explains. “When we started there, there were times when filming was halted because it was too cold. By the time we were finished, we were stood down for three days because of bush fires. The extremes of weather were quite extraordinary. We were really cold, like properly cold – no acting involved. We all had slurred speech because we were so cold.”

O’Reilly, whose credits include Glitch and The Secret, also compliments the “great bunch of directors” who worked on season two, adding that they each brought fresh creativity and ideas to the set. Those behind the camera this season include Gilles Bannier, Chris Baugh, Jim Loach, Susan Tully and Justin Chadwick.

“Film and television, it’s a collaborative medium. You have engaging, collaborative, creative discussions with your director always, and we had wonderful directors on this. They were so invested in the piece and invested in us as actors but also as characters and the piece itself,” she says.

As for what viewers can expect, Roth points to Jim’s inevitable confrontation with Pastor Johan, which also marks the first time the actor has worked on screen with his longtime friend Lynch. “Expect trouble,” Roth teases. “I don’t think my character buys into the whole heaven and hell situation too easily.”

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Star turn

Twists and turns abound in Tin Star, Sky Atlantic’s Rocky Mountains-set drama that sees Tim Roth play a small-town police chief attempting to escape his demons. DQ hears from the star and writer/director Rowan Joffé about pushing the limits in this 10-part series.

Tim Roth isn’t exactly known for playing the quiet type.

Perhaps most famous for appearing in several Quentin Tarantino movies – including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and The Hateful Eight – the actor has a knack for portraying menacing characters with a simmering intensity, with other memorable villainous turns in 2001’s Planet of the Apes and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.

So when the early stages of Tin Star, his new series for Sky Atlantic, see Roth as a level-headed family man and police chief in the peaceful surroundings of rural Canada, it’s safe for viewers to assume that things are going to go south – and fast.

Rowan Joffé

The 10-part drama, which launches in the UK on September 7, stars Roth as former London copper Jim Worth, who has upped sticks along with his family to escape a troubled past by beginning a new life in the Rocky Mountains.

All seems to be going swimmingly at first, with the new police chief – a former alcoholic – spending more time catching fish than criminals in the sleepy fictional town of Little Big Bear. But things soon take a dark twist as the arrival of a shady oil company coincides with a past that refuses to fade away, and an attack on his family turns Jim into a one-man wrecking ball on a quest for revenge.

Coproduced by Endemol Shine-owned firm Kudos Film and Television alongside Amazon Prime Video in the US, Tin Star is distributed by Sky Vision.

The show marks Roth’s first lead TV role since his only other major venture into the medium, Lie to Me, came to an end in 2011 after three seasons on US network Fox.

However, the actor reveals the decision to return to the small screen was not premeditated. “I wasn’t looking for a TV show,” he explains. “I put my feet up in the kitchen and I read a couple of [Tin Star] scripts, and I thought they were bonkers.

Tin Star’s cast is led by Tim Roth as troubled police chief Jim Worth

“That immediately gets my attention, and then the next question is, ‘Where the fuck does this go?’ And then I found out, and it’s interesting. So I thought, ‘I fancy this.’ Then you call [the producers] and tell them that, and they pay you shit-loads of money!” he jokes.

Roth says he was captivated by the “very, very anarchic story,” adding: “The minute I thought I knew what was going on, it was something different – we always got it wrong.”

Filmed on location in and around Calgary, Alberta, Tin Star makes full use of the region’s natural beauty, with sweeping shots of mountain ranges and rivers providing stark contrast to the ugliness that unfolds between the characters on screen.

Yet while one might think filming in such a place sounds like an actor’s dream, Roth offers a different view. “Having worked in Calgary, I have to say I wasn’t keen to go back,” he admits. “It’s nothing against Canada, but you’re talking about ‘Trumpland’ in Canada. It’s all flourishing – the oil and the corporations, the invasions of the local culture. It’s just there.”

The show centres on Jim and his family’s attempt to start a new life in the Rocky Mountains

It’s a view echoed by Rowan Joffé, who wrote and directed every episode of the series. “Canada looks like this wonderful, impeccable, clean place – and it is, until you look at what they’re doing with the tar sands out there,” he says, referencing the controversial oil extraction that has been gathering pace in the country. “It’s pretty horrific in many ways.”

Best known for writing 2007 horror sequel 28 Weeks Later and for penning and directing 2014 feature Before I Go to Sleep, Joffé became the latest in an growing band of contemporary movie directors to try their hand at TV drama when he signed up for Tin Star, his first major TV project.

The chance to take charge of what he describes as a “10-hour movie” proved irresistible to Joffé, who says: “Sky were always true to their word, which was, ‘You can author the show.’ And so we just ran with it.

“We thought there was absolutely no point in doing this unless we felt like we were taking risks. The opportunity to write what I wanted to write and to be able to collaborate with actors who I really admire, and for no one to tell me no at any point… It’s just been amazing.”

The show also features Mad Men star Christina Hendricks

Joffé’s affinity for his cast – which also includes Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks as oil rep Elizabeth Bradshaw and Genevieve O’Reilly as Jim’s wife Angela – is clear, with the director revealing that they played an important role in shaping the plot.

“The story began to change and morph around the actors,” he says. “Without doubt, many of the best moments on screen – particularly in Tim’s case – were ad-libbed. Tim brought a level of wit and comedy to it that was way beyond my ability as a screenwriter.”

Joffé was “free with us and let us be free at the same time,” adds Roth, who particularly relished the chance to really get under the skin of a character across 10 hours.

He describes the experience as “much more satisfying” than working on network television’s standalone episodes – such as in Lie to Me – which he calls a “much harder job.”

“Theatre is where actors really exist, as opposed to film, which is the director’s world. But [television now] is very similar to the stage experience, especially now that there are so many good writers and so much rich talent involved.

Genevieve O’Reilly as Jim’s wife Angela

“For us as actors, it’s incredible. We get to play more with television now – to invent, change, metamorphose, have fun and be challenged.”

Playing Jim was made more difficult by the increasing presence throughout the series of his dangerous alter ego, Jack, who Jim has learnt to keep at bay – as long as he remains sober.

Indeed, as the show progresses, Jack increasingly comes to the fore, simultaneously ratcheting up the violence and taking the show to “dark, shocking places,” according to Joffé.

“We went far; I wouldn’t have wanted to do it if we didn’t. It was just anarchy on the page,” says Roth, who credits Joffé for creating a character that tests audience sympathies.

“We take you to a very dark place, but the audience is supposed to be my ‘mate’ – they’re part of the fun too. On the one hand you enjoy the journey with this guy, and on the other you hate him.”

As for the suggestion of a second season, it seems Roth would jump at the chance. “In a hypothetical world, if we got to do another 10-hour movie, I’d be happy with that. I’d like to chip back at and fuck with this character again.”

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