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Tim Roth to Share Life Lessons in Acting Today

By Dina Gachman

Four Rooms, Rob Roy actor speaks in Ackerman at noon

Actor Tim Roth gets to the point.

"There's a lot of bullshit in town," he says, "but I don't deal with it."

Roth, who is speaking today in Ackerman Grand Ballroom at noon, has played roles ranging from the passionate, tortured Vincent Van Gogh (Vincent and Theo), to the naive, bloody Mr. Orange (Reservoir Dogs), to the almost-slapstick bellhop in the recently released Four Rooms.

The actor prefers working on independent films by first-time writers and directors because most big-budget Hollywood films lack the creativity and freedom that Roth gravitates toward. "Generally with low-budget films," he says, "the scripts aren't as predictable."

Roth's recent turn in Rob Roy earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Golden Globes this year as the cruel Archibald Cunningham. Rob Roy was one of Roth's most commercially successful Hollywood movies to date, and a good experience for the actor.

"I enjoyed the character a lot," Roth says. "It was interesting to me, because they spend so much time on a scene. You definitely get paid."

Acting was not always his means of supporting himself. Roth, who was born in England, always wanted a career in the arts. His first taste of acting came just before he entered art college, in a high school play. Being on the stage may have been like a drug for him, but it didn't pay the bills.

During college, Roth worked in a supermarket, sold advertisements over the phone (which he claims he was terrible at), and when these jobs failed him, just hung out as an unemployed artist.

The decision to move to America happened more as a fluke for Roth. He was in New York shooting the film Jumpin' at the Boneyard (directed by Jeff Stanzler) and decided to visit Los Angeles for a few weeks. He stayed.

Roth does not regret his move to the United States, but he misses some things about England.

"I miss the culture," he says, "the history of it, and the passions, which are hidden in America."

Passion is a word that describes Roth's performances - a passion often hidden by his cool, reserved exterior. While many actors depend on "method acting," and extensively research each character, Roth relies only on his own emotions and disclaims the techniques of many stars.

"I don't buy any of it," he says. "I've never studied acting. Never read a book on it."

If he were forced to stop acting, Roth would not give up on films. He says that he might, however, experiment in other fields.

"I would direct, but never write. I've tried writing and I can't do it," he says. "The problem with directing for an actor is that you have to stop acting. I can't see being in it and directing it - I'd want to concentrate on getting the performances out."

And who would Roth cast in his first film?

"I'd want to cast Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, Benicio del Toro, Jessica Lange, Meryl Streep, Miranda Richardson - there are so many," he says.

One level present in many, but not all, of Roth's films, is an uninhibited, realistic portrayal of violence, and the capability of anyone, and everyone, to succumb to this violence. Roth becomes passionate when confronted with people's (namely American's) increasing fear of and aversion to violence in films. Roth does not preach his ideas, but there is no need to.

"Violence only bothers me if it's commercial violence," says Roth. "If you're worried about violence in any part of the media, stop going to the theater, stop watching Shakespeare (except maybe the light comedies), beware of poetry, don't read the Bible and don't see any films except maybe Father of the Bride."

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