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Obscure Objects of Desire

Hugh Morley asks three people to select a favourite object -- something they like to look at, something that just inspires them or even just something that they use a lot . . .

"I might as well do some shopping while I'm here!" Mean and moody Tim Roth wanders lonely as a cloud amongst the hanging hams, the chunks of salted fish and the endless packets of Fritto Fritto savory pasta noodles, reeling off the family shopping list. Thirty different varieties of cheese sweat gently behind glass and stare up at the Roth countenance.

Gennaro G. Massielle beams proudly from behind the counter. A second generation Italian from Benevenuto near Naples, he runs Gennaro's Delicatessen just off Lewisham High Street with his family. Gennaro's is Tim Roth's obscure object of desire. So obscure in fact that even he can't quite grasp why he chose it.

"I just like Italian food," he tosses off carelessly, just so. Just so . . . method. "My girlfriend likes it even more. My kid likes it too -- but my girlfriend got me hooked on it. She's a New York Italian brought up in the city and out on Long Island. You go round there and get force fed. They won't let you finish eating . . . "

"Here, try this one -- it's on special offer!" Gennaro comes round from behind the counter, slaps Roth on the back and laughs. He likes having famous actors in his deli. Alfred Molina, most recently in Letter To Brezhnev, is another regular.

"I saw Tim first in Made In Britain and I didn't know him then -- but I thought he was very good. The part, that is . . . I didn't like the swearing and everything, though, " says Gennaro. His family laugh. We all laugh. Then the captain of the local Anglo-Italian football team comes in. More backslapping and shaking of hands. More laughter. It's just that sort of deli!

Since emerging as the sadistically malevolent Trevor in Made In Britain, Tim Roth has cut his chops in the likes of Mike Leigh's Meantime, The Man Who Tried To Kill the Pope, and The Hit. He's been touted here as Britain's Most Promising Young Actor so many times that his legs are beginning to buckle under the weight. He was most recently seen in the BBC's four-parter King of the Ghetto, written by Farrukh Dondy.

As a staunch South Londoner there has, however, Roth says, yet to be a really good film made about the area. Somewhere in the wings there is a great movie waiting, something that will do for Lewisham what DeNiro and Pacino and Coppola and Scorsese have done for New York.

"London just hasn't been investigated really. I suppose Franco Rossi did it with Brixton in Babylon, but around here there's all sorts of things to investigate -- the villainy that goes on, the Millwall thing, what people do . . . I mean there's massive unemployment here and yet kids are driving around in cars, changing them every three months and wearing Italian clothes. So what are they doing? Where are they getting the money from? The drug thing here is massive . . . I think London could film beautifully, but they just don't film it right. They always skirt round it or they film the outside and never get inside and investigate it properly!"

Until then, how about My Beautiful Delicatessen?

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