Tim Roth, currently starring in 600 Miles, is one of Britain’s most well-respected actors. It’s easy to forget how talented he actually is. The charm of Roth is that he will shine in any role, whether he’s the leading man, a supporting character or the antagonist. Roth has proven time and time again that he’s not an actor who’s typecast – he rarely plays the same role twice.
To celebrate the release of his new film, 600 Miles, we’ve rounded up Roth’s finest performances spanning his 34-year career.
600 Miles (2016)
In his newest film, Tim Roth plays Hank Harris, an undercover federal agent working on the U.S.-Mexico border to track down a young gun-runner Arnulfo Rubio (Kristyan Ferrer). After a foolish, rookie mistake by Harris, Rubio seizes the opportunity and kidnaps the agent to smuggle him into Mexico. As Rubio attempts to hand him to his uncle’s cartel as a trophy, both men realize that the only way out is by trusting each other…
Made In Britain (1983)
Tim Roth bagged his first role at the age of 21 in short TV movie Made In Britain. It’s a role that showcases his exceptional talent at such a young age and the start of his everlasting career. The 76-minute film follows the story of Trevor, 16-year-old juvenile skinhead with no authority or morals. When the authorities attempt to get him to conform to society, Trevor isn’t interested; he would rather steal cars and face jail-time than own up to his mistakes. The final confrontation comments on his lifestyle choices and refusal to accept his mistakes, despite being given the opportunity for redemption.
The Hit (1984)
In his debut feature film role, Roth stars as Myron, an apprentice to a professional killer (played by John Hurt). Directed by Stephen Frears, the story follows the hit men as they kidnap a former gangster (played by Terrence Stamp) with orders to take him to Paris. But things don’t go as planned as the three men end up being stuck on a road trip to the city. Roth kicked off his career by winning the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer and bagging a BAFTA nomination for Best Newcomer in this role.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1991)
Tim Roth and Gary Oldman in the same film? Who’d have thought so! The underrated comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead focuses on two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Written and directed by Tom Stoppard, the film shows us what happens when the characters disappear from the play. It’s Roth’s exciting chemistry with Oldman that makes this a great performance (critics have called this one of Oldman’s best films) despite it being filmed like a play.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Without a doubt, Roth’s best performance comes in the form of Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature Reservoir Dogs. He dons a flawless American accent to play the undercover cop Freddy Newandyke who infiltrates a criminal gang. But Freddie gets more than he bargained for when a jewellery heist goes wrong and the gang suspects someone among their ranks is a police informant. Roth is spectacular in the role, showing the complexity of his character, and it’s thanks to him that everything turns into chaos at the end.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Yes, Roth appears in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction for all of 15 minutes but we shouldn’t underestimate his performance here. He plays the pivotal character of Ringo, a lowly thief who robs liquor stores, planning to rob a diner with his girlfriend Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer). He’s only in one scene but the reason he’s so good is that he nails it.
Rob Roy (1995)
Liam Neeson might spring into mind at first mention of Rob Roy but it was Roth who gained acclaim for his role. The medieval drama sees him take on the role of the villainous Archibald Cunningham, a ruthless aristocrat obsessed with violence and debauchery. Roth won a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his mesmerising performance (let’s not forget that he was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe, too).
The War Zone (1999)
Roth’s only directorial venture comes in the form of festival hit The War Zone, starring Ray Winstone and Tilda Swinton. The film follows the story of Tom, a 15-year-old boy who begins to feel alienated by his parents after their move from London to the countryside. There, he has to find a way to deal with an emotional family secret that’s come to the surface all while adjusting to his new, lonely life. The film gained mass acclaim, with critics calling Roth’s directorial debut a ‘surprising gift’.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Tim Roth returned to the Quentin Tarantino fold as one of the titular eight nefarious characters in this typically blood-soaked Academy Award-winning crime drama. He plays Oswaldo Mobray (aka “The Little Man”), a debonair hangman who, in wake of a powerful blizzard, is holed up in Minnie’s Haberdashery with a group of seemingly unrelated men, who are made up of the likes of a cowboy, a Confederate general and a bounty hunter. When two new individuals join the fray, tensions rise and built toward a devastating climax. Roth provides the comedic flourishes in this increasingly violent pitch-black drama, utilising his purposefully over the top English charms to great use.
When the latest feature from Mexican writer-director Michel Franco debuted at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, many deemed Roth’s central performance to be the finest in his varied, longstanding career. They may be right, commanding as he does each and every frame of this slow-burning and morally inconspicuous treatise on death. He plays David, a lowly, monosyllabic home care nurse in America who dedicates himself to working with terminally ill patients. His ostensibly good intentions and desires to ensure his charges get the best treatment possible before their demise are called into question, however, when David’s mysterious, chameleonic true persona gradually comes to light.
600 Miles out on DVD and Digital HD May 30 courtesy of Soda Pictures.