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The Hit Man

Tim Roth is a talented young actor whose performance in the new movie The Hit is winning a lot of attention . . . including that of Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon.

In fact, Simon was so fascinated by The Hit that he offered to review it for No. 1.

And Martin Townsend hit on the idea of interviewing Tim -- the first sex symbol to sport a grubby anorak and NHS specs.

If you watch a lot of TV, you probably know Tim Roth. You just don't realize it.

Remember Made in Britain -- that play about a skinhead rock band that caused an outcry because of its violent action and even more violent language?

That was Tim Roth behind the mike-stand with a swastika tattooed on his forehead.

And you remember Mike Leigh's Mean Time -- that tragic comedy about family life in a dead-end tower block?

Well that was Tim Roth playing Phil Daniels' halfwit of a brother -- the one who rebelled by going out and getting a skinhead crop, then went to bed in his anorak in case his mum found out.

Yes, if you remember TV's spotty young lovers, then you already know Tim Roth.

So it may come as a shock when we tell you that Tim Roth is about to become an overnight sex symbol and Britain's hottest young actor -- all on the strength of one new movie.

The fact that he happens to share a publicist with Wham and David Sylvian could also have something to do with it . . .

TOUGH

The film that's going to make Tim Roth a star is called The Hit.

For Tim, 23, it was a tough assignment in more ways than one.

Tough, because it's a ruthless gangland thriller full of cool calculation and violent death.

And even tougher, because it cast Tim alongside two of our most brilliant actors, John Hurt and Terence Stamp.

Yet already Tim's performance is being hailed by the critics -- including No. 1's own reviewer Simon Le Bon!

"That's great, isn't it?" says Tim, when I tell him what a great review Simon gave him. "He just went to one of the previews. And he liked it!"

THRILL

For Tim, it was enough of a thrill to be appearing in the same movie as John Hurt -- star of The Elephant Man, Alien, The Naked Civil Servant, Midnight Express and many other great roles.

"I was terrified of working with him. He's a lifetime hero of mine," says Tim. "But I flew over to Spain (where The Hit was filmed) with him, and found him really easy-going."

And Terence Stamp, who was making box-office smashes like The Collector when Tim was still in primary school, also went out of his way to put the new boy at ease.

BLOOD

This is just as well, because it has to be said that The Hit is hardly a barrel of laughs.

In it, Tim plays a young thug called Myron, who tags along with hit man John Hurt when he's sent to do a job in Spain. His mission: to bring back a criminal supergrass (Terence Stamp) for 'execution' by the man he grassed on.

Inevitably, though, things don't work out according to plan, and at least one celebrity's guts wind up on the cutting room floor before the bloody end.

And Myron's mean mask begins to crack under the Spanish sun . . .

"Myron's the sort of bloke that's quite heavy on his own territory," observes Tim. "But taken to Spain and given a gun, he just doesn't know how to behave."

WIMP

Myron's home territory, in Tim's imagination, is North Peckham -- an area of London he knows well. So he scouted around pubs in that area for characters to copy . . . and wound up basing the part on someone he knew. It seems a good way to lose a friend, Tim!

"Well, I did the same thing with Mean Time," he confesses. "It was based on someone I knew at school who basically hid for five years."

Tim's performance in Mean Time as the wheezy wimp in the NHS glasses and grubby anorak was highly comic, but equally cruel. As one of his fellow characters remarks in the play, he's "not retarded, he's just never been given a chance".

H-I-T

For Tim Roth, with his pop star looks and acting talents, the future looks bright.

As I left, Tim was looking forward to the prestigious premiere of The Hit -- the film which may or may not live up to its name, but will certainly spell H-I-T for one young man . . .

"I'll definitely be at the premiere," Tim vowed. "In my anorak and NHS glasses!"

Read Simon Le Bon's review of The Hit.

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