Oscar Actors: Roth, Tim–Background, Career, Awards

Updated July 2, 2020
Tim Roth Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: NA

Social Class: Upper middle; father painter journalist; mother painter and teacher


Family: Irish descent

Education: he wanted to be sculptor


Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut: 1982; age 21

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut:

Breakthrough Role:

Oscar Role: Rob Roy, 1995; age 34

Other Noms:

Other Awards:

Frequent Collaborator: Tarantino (4 films)

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span: 1982-

Other Notes: victim of sexual abuse; member of Brit Pack



Death: NA


Timothy Simon Roth (born 14 May 1961), an English actor and director, made his debut in the TV 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 earned international recognition for appearing in 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’s other notable films include Captives (1994), Little Odessa (1994), Everyone Says I Love You (1996), Gridlock’d (1997), Deceiver (1997), The Legend of 1900 (1998), Planet of the Apes (2001), Invincible (2001), Funny Games (2007), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Arbitrage (2012), Broken (2012), Selma (2014) and 600 Miles (2016). He also starred as Cal Lightman on the Fox series Lie to Me and as Jack Worth in the Sky Atlantic series Tin Star.

Roth was born in Dulwich, London, the son of Ann, a painter and teacher, and Ernie, a Fleet Street journalist, painter, and member of the British Communist Party until the 1970s.

His father was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, to a family of Irish descent. He changed his surname from “Smith” to the German/Yiddish “Roth” in the 1940s, “to express solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust.”[5][6][7]

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.

Roth made his acting début at 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.

Brit Pack

Roth was cast as “Mr. Orange” in 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 Oscar 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 reclaimed the role. He appeared in Coppola’s Youth Without Youth and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, then starred as Emil Blonsky / Abomination, a Russian-born officer in the UK’s Royal Marines Commandos, in The Incredible Hulk. Hulk director Louis Leterrier said: “It’s great watching a normal Cockney boy become a superhero!”.[13]

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.[14] A fan of Monty Python since his youth, in 2009 he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut).[15] In 2010, Roth appeared on the cover of Manic Street Preachers’ 2010 studio album, Postcards from a Young Man.[16]

In 2012, he served as the President of the Jury for the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Fest.

In 2015, he starred in the Chronic (limited release), for which he 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).

Politically, Roth is a supporter of the Green Party of England and Wales.[23] Roth endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[24]

Roth is a survivor of child sexual abuse, committed by his paternal grandfather, who he has stated sexually abused him from childhood until early teen years. He first revealed he was a victim of sexual abuse during press for his 1999 directorial debut, The War Zone (which dealt with 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.