Roth at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Timothy Simon Roth
14 May 1961
|Occupation||Actor, film director|
Timothy Simon Roth (born 14 May 1961) is an English actor and director. He made his debut in the television film Made in Britain (1982). He gained critical acclaim for his role as Myron in The Hit (1984), for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Among a group of prominent British actors of the era, the "Brit Pack", Roth gained more attention for his performances in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Vincent & Theo (1990) and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990).
He later earned international recognition for appearing in Quentin Tarantino's films, such as Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Four Rooms (1995) and The Hateful Eight (2015). For the historical drama Rob Roy (1995), Roth won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He made his directorial debut with The War Zone (1999), for which he received numerous accolades.
Roth was born in Dulwich, London, the son of Ann, a painter and teacher, and Ernie, a Fleet Street journalist and a painter. His father was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, to a family of Irish descent. Although he was not of Jewish background, he changed his surname from "Smith" to the German/Yiddish "Roth" in the 1940s, as "an act of anti-Nazi solidarity".
Roth is a survivor of child sexual abuse, committed by his paternal grandfather, who he has stated sexually abused him from childhood until his early teen years. He first revealed that he was a victim of sexual abuse during press for his 1999 directorial debut, The War Zone, a film which dealt with the topics of incest and sexual violence within a family, but declined to name the perpetrator at that time. In December 2016, he gave an interview to the British newspaper The Guardian in which he revealed that his abuser was his grandfather, who had also sexually abused Roth's own father when he was a child.
Roth attended school in Lambeth, before switching to Croydon Technical School due to bullying. Roth attended the Strand School in Tulse Hill. As a young man, he wanted to be a sculptor and studied at London's Camberwell College of Arts.
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Roth made his acting début at the age of 21, playing a white supremacist skinhead named Trevor in the television film Made in Britain. He played an East End character in King of the Ghetto, a controversial drama based on a novel by Farukh Dhondy set in Brick Lane and broadcast by the BBC in 1986. He played a shy young man in the 1984 Mike Leigh film Meantime.
In 1985, he appeared in the television film Murder with Mirrors. He played an apprentice hitman in Stephen Frears' The Hit, earning an Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer. In 1989 he had a supporting role as the buffoonish lackey Mitchell in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. In 1990, he starred as Vincent van Gogh in Robert Altman's Vincent & Theo and Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.
Roth and other young British actors of the late 1980s, such as Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis, Bruce Payne, and Paul McGann, were dubbed the Brit Pack. Roth was cast as "Mr. Orange" in Quentin Tarantino's 1992 film Reservoir Dogs. In 1994, Tarantino cast him as a robber in Pulp Fiction. They also collaborated in the 1995 film Four Rooms, where he played Ted. His role as Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy earned him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and a Golden Globe nomination.
In 1996, he starred in Woody Allen's musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You. He also starred as "Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900" in The Legend of 1900, and in the same year, he co-starred in the film Gridlock'd. He made his directorial debut in 1999 with The War Zone, a film version of Alexander Stuart's novel. In 2001, he portrayed General Thade in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. Roth was the original choice for the role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series, but he turned it down for Planet of the Apes.
He was considered for the part of Hannibal Lecter in the 2001 film Hannibal before Anthony Hopkins returned to reclaim the role. He appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth and Michael Haneke's Funny Games, then starred as Emil Blonsky / Abomination, a Russian-born officer in the United Kingdom's Royal Marines Commandos, in The Incredible Hulk. Hulk director Louis Leterrier was a fan of Roth's work, with the director telling Empire magazine, "it's great watching a normal Cockney boy become a superhero!".
From 2009 to 2011, he starred in Lie To Me as Cal Lightman, an expert on body language who assists local and federal law organisations in the investigations of crimes. A fan of Monty Python since his youth, in 2009 he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut). In 2010, Roth appeared on the cover of Manic Street Preachers' 2010 studio album, Postcards from a Young Man.
In 2012, he was announced as the President of the Jury for the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. He starred as FIFA President Sepp Blatter in United Passions, a film about football's governing body, released in 2014, to coincide with FIFA's 110th anniversary, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In 2015, he starred in the film Chronic which received a limited release in 2016. He later received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead nomination. Roth reunited with Tarantino in The Hateful Eight (2015), playing Oswaldo Mobray/English Pete Hicox. In 2019, Roth was to appear in Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but his scenes were cut.
Roth has three sons. Jack Roth, born to Lori Baker in 1984, is also an actor. In 1993, Roth married Nikki Butler. They have two sons, Timothy Hunter (born 1995) and Michael Cormac (born 1996).