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5 Questions with Tim Roth

Tim-Roth.jpgTonight, Tim Roth hits the small screen in Fox's "Lie to Me." We have to wonder if it will be the next "House" or the next "My Own Worst Enemy." Things don't look great for the new drama, considering the premiere is up against the long-awaited return of ABC's "Lost."

Roth stars are Dr. Cal Lightman, who can detect the truth by analyzing a person's face, body, voice and speech. He heads up a group of experts at The Lightman Group, who try to help law enforcement with some of their most difficult cases.

The show sounds interesting, mainly because it's a chance to see Roth strut his acting stuff every week. The guy is a great actor. A great liar? Not so much. Here are 5 quick questions with the "Reservoir Dogs" vet.

1) Tell us about your character, and what about the role appealed to you.

Tim Roth: Well, it's based on Paul Ekman, who studied body language and the kind of expressions that goes through people's faces and can betray what's behind what they're saying. So, it's kind of an interesting concept. At the time, I was looking for something that would keep me home. I've been traveling so much with work, and I wanted to stay close to my family. So, this came along. I quite liked the idea of playing the character, or possibly playing a character in a long form, like a play really; a long run in the West End. So, it's a character that has legs, really. He can be in very different situations, and I like that. So, it might be kind of a fun experiment.

2) How much of this character would you say you take home with you?

TR: I try to take absolutely none of it home with me. I make a very strong attempt not to get to know too much of the science and not to practice it at home or any of that stuff because the real guy, Paul, he can't switch it off. He can't unlearn it. He knows so much about this stuff that he can see, in everybody, what they're maybe thinking. He watches their bodies betray them. I don't really want to do that. I'd much rather just go about my life.

3) Why do you think viewers will enjoy this show?

TR: I think it'll be fun to see this kind of stuff and see how it relates in reality, in real life. Part of the fun is going to be Paul's website that he's doing -- his companion website. He's a scientist that it's [the show] based on. He's going to do a companion website for each episode. So, you'll actually see the stuff that we're making up and the stuff that is real. You'll see examples of how -- you'll be able to train yourself to spot stuff. I don't want to know. No, I think an audience could really enjoy themselves with it. It's kind of fun.

4) During your research, did you find a way to continue lying and consciously manipulate your face so it appeared you were still telling the truth? Is there a way to do that?

TR: Well, I don't know. You know what? It's weird. The only one who could tell me -- essentially, all of the acting is lying, right? All of acting is lying. It's all deception. So, for me, for my character, thankfully, he's one of the few ones that doesn't actually have to be on stage. It's only the subjects or people talking to him or people that he is talking to who are on stage. I do know that, for example, actors... quite often get a hold of Paul's training DVDs and his website training stuff and also his books and use them. So, I'm always lying. That's what actors do, so you never stop lying. It's just how good you are at it, I suppose.

5) Why do you think that so many foreign actors opt to use an American accent? Do you think that U.S. audiences are more accepting, or will they accept you better?

TR: I don't know. Well, it's a couple of things. I think generally, they have to do an American accent if they're doing something on telly. So, that was a battle that if they wanted me, they got me with my own accent, so that was a homework battle... but I think there's a history, kind of a love affair between American and the English that goes back in cinema history. There's always been that relationship. Our English actors have come over here and have been employed, quite consistently for a very long time, for as long as film has been around, so it's really just an offshoot of that. I didn't know the guy in "The Wire," for example, was English. He's that good. I know Hugh Laurie's doing an American accent because I guess they had to play an American character, but this guy doesn't have to be an American, and the folks were good enough to let me get away with that.

"Lie to Me" premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. (EST) on Fox. -- Rachel Cericola

Posted by Rachel Cericola on January 21, 2009 4:35 PM
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