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Bad-Boy Actor

By Jamie Diamond

Watch this face: Tim Roth blasts his way to the big time

Decked out in leather pants and sporting tattoos on his right biceps, British actor Tim Roth looks as if he could have stepped out of any of the gritty films he's appeared in. There's Reservoir Dogs, in which he bleeds to death from bullet wounds; Bodies Rest & Motion, in which he plays a rootless TV salesman; and next month's heavily armed crime comedy Pulp Fiction, in which he portrays a small-time hood. This convincing use of firearms has made his movies the target of antiviolence criticism. But, argues the 32-year-old, "in Reservoir Dogs, violence has consequences. In movies like Lethal Weapon, you want the hero to shoot more people -- the audience isn't made to care. That's worse."

The passion Roth gives to his bad guys is about to boot him up to the big time: He's started shooting his first major-studio-backed movie, Rob Roy, in which he's been cast as -- you guessed it -- the henchman to a crooked cattleman who is out to scam Liam Neeson.

But Roth's manner is anything but nasty. In the dingy Los Angeles bar that we're in, he maintains the polite distance of a schoolboy. And toward his new wife, fashion designer Nikki Butler, he is doting. "I send flowers. I remember all the dates I'm supposed to. I love all that," Roth says. For Valentine's Day, he gave her a pair of black leather pants to match his own.

These days, this intense actor actually seems quite content. He can think of only one thing in his acting career that's a drag -- he can't tattoo his entire body: "Johnny Depp and I were talking about this. Do you know how hard it is to cover up a tattoo with makeup?"

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