Tavis: Tim Roth first became known to American movie fans in the Quentin Tarantino classic Reservoir Dogs. His other notable films include, of course, Pulp Fiction, Gridlock'd with Tupac Shakur, and Rob Roy, the latter earning him an Oscar nomination. You can now catch him in two new films. First up, The Beautiful Country, which depicts the journey of a 20-year-old Vietnamese man who comes to America to find his American father. He's also staring in the new psychological thriller Dark Water. The film opened to strong reviews this past weekend.
Tavis: Tim Roth, nice to have you here, man.
Tim Roth: Nice to be here.
Tavis: Nice to meet you. Two movies at the same time?
Roth: Yeah, I wasn't quite sure. I wasn't--'Cause I'd been away for some time, and I--It was a coincidence. I was quite happy. Because the one is a very small independent film. It's hard to get attention for those ones, so...it's nice that one can supply some attention for the other.
Tavis: Well, I'm glad you're here to provide attention for both. Let's start with Dark Water, since it opened this past weekend. Psychological thriller. The storyline is?
Roth: It's a woman who moves into an apartment building, who finds that there are some very, very spooky goings-on within the bathroom. Emanating from the bathroom.
Tavis: That happens in my house all the time. I guess there's a movie in this?
Roth: Yeah. If you've got kids, there's a lot of spooky goings-on in the bathroom. And so I play a lawyer that--She's going through a divorce, a messy divorce, and I'm someone that she brings in to help her, you know, cope with her ex-husband. Well, ex-husband-to-be.
Tavis: I gotta tell you that, you know, this is one of those movies where you can't give too much of it away because it is a thriller, but I must tell you I loved your office. What a beautiful office you had in this movie.
Roth: Yeah, he works out of his car. I'm not sure--I mean, possibly, he may even live in his car.
Tavis: Yeah. He lives and works out of his car.
Roth: He has that feeling.
Tavis: Jennifer Connelly is on a roll, is she not? She's awfully talented.
Roth: Yeah. I found her--I mean, I was aware of her work, obviously, but I think this is really one of the first ones that's really hung on her, that the film's been built around her. And she's got some serious acting chops, I'd say. She's very, very good.
Tavis: Is that something that an actor wants, to have a movie that you have to carry, or is it safer and more secure to perfect your craft, to do what you do, but not have to have the thing hang around your neck? Or on your back?
Roth: On the one hand, as far as ego's concerned, I suppose you want to be central to the film. But no, I think for movie stars, that's the curse of the job. And sometimes a pleasure of the job. But in general, for actors, you act where you're required. And I think for character actors, your aim is to be an actor for the rest of your life, and not just kind of be snuffed out with the next new flame that's coming through. So...
Tavis: Do you consider yourself a character actor?
Roth: Yeah, I would. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely.
Tavis: The Beautiful Country, the smaller independent film that you mentioned--you know, these things, as you mentioned, always hard to get publicity for. Tell me about The Beautiful Country.
Roth: It's the story of a boy who's bi-racial. His father was a G.I. In Vietnam, had an affair with a woman, and there was a baby, which--you know, he's grown up, and he is--There was a time, and it still is a problem with bi-racial--you know, the remnants of the G.I.s' affairs in Vietnam. And they were called bui doi, I believe, which is "less than dust." And they had an extraordinarily painful existence. This film studies his journey from Vietnam, trying to escape from there to try and find his father.
Tavis: And this film, you play the captain of the ship.
Roth: Yeah. He has a human cargo. Yeah.
Tavis: Um, I want to talk about these attacks, the terrorist bombing in London the other day, because you were born and raised in London. Before I get to that--get your thoughts on that--since we're talking about Vietnam, at least with regard to the story line, and the connection that some have made--certainly Senator Ted Kennedy have made to what the U.S. are doing in Iraq is reminiscent of what we did in Vietnam--that connection has been made by Kennedy and others. Are you fascinated at all by the continuing fascination that Americans have with the war in Vietnam these many years later?
Roth: Well, you know, it was a war of extraordinary futility, and I think that echoes with what we're doing in Iraq. The difference, I think--Well, one of the many differences is that the media had an extraordinarily powerful impact on that war. The exposing of the corruption that was going on there and our behavior there and so forth, and bringing down--bringing about the end of the war. Or our withdrawal, you know, from Saigon. It doesn't seem to be happening here at all. It seems that the media has very little power left. It seems that the questions aren't being asked and that they've--In a sense, quite a few of them were perpetuating the lies that took us there in the first place.
Tavis: To your point about the media--and, again, as we make our way into this conversation about what happened in London last week, um, to your point about the media, there are a lot of folk who believe that the U.S. media is worse than media around the globe, that we, with our embedded journalists, where this war was concerned, didn't get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And there are a lot of people who suggest that if you really want to know what's going on, you have to look at journalism that comes from sources outside of the United States. Your thought?
Roth: I think so. I think you do. I think while those in Washington sit there and ask the questions that don't offend and get them thrown out of the room, the journalists that were embedded were given the facts as the military perceived them, and those that were outside that faced extraordinary danger. And quite a few of them were killed. And so, yeah, I tend to use the internet to get access to the media around the world.
Tavis: Alternative sources.
Roth: Alternative sources, but also, even the mainstream media in Britain, for example, in France or Germany or Arabic-speaking newspapers who have on-line sites, it's always worth finding out what they're saying about what's happening in America and what's happening in Iraq.
Tavis: With regard to the terrorist bombings in London, I wonder whether or not those in London, so many, if I'm to read every poll and study and survey I've seen, Britons were very disappointed in the war in Iraq, even perhaps more so than Americans were. Tony Blair, he won reelection, had a very difficult go of it because so many folk in his country were upset with Britain's involvement in the war in Iraq and being so close to America. I wondered, now that they've been hit by these terrorist attacks in the way that we were and Al Qaeda seems to be behind those attacks, as well, whether or not your fellow countrymen will see things a little differently now with regards to the war on terror now that they've been victimized by it.
Roth: I think, if anything, it will make them wanna be out of there quicker. And, you know, the difference between the attacks on the World Trade Center and the attacks in London recently are the attacks on the World Trade Center were not a response as to what was happening in Iraq. Our attacks that took place in London were a direct response to our involvement in Iraq. It would seem. And I think that the British people will--I mean, do want out of there anyway. They definitely have wanted out of there, and Blair's government hasn't listened. And I think, hopefully, it will make them more determined.
Tavis: Although, Tim, there are some who believe, obviously, that the reason these attacks in London, and other places, perhaps, are happening is because the war on terror is being waged successfully, and this is what happens when you got folk on the run. They start acting and behaving in such a way because they want to not give in. They want you to know that they're not throwing in the towel, but you precisely have them where you want them. You buy that argument?
Roth: Not really, no. I mean, I don't see--I can't perceive any form of success that we've had in this so-called war on terror. And I don't know how you can win a war on principles. By being in Iraq, for example, we're upping the odds that we're gonna get attacked many more times. Al Qaeda warned us we were gonna get hit.
Tavis: I'm fascinated by your point, because I understand the point you're making, that one cannot win a war on principles. I know exactly what you meant by that. If, in fact, you are right about that and others who believe as you do are right about that, what, then, becomes the option, the alternative, for dealing with people who are hellbent on imposing or stressing their own viewpoint, their own principle?
Roth: What I've been reading recently, which is something that is a discussion that's come out of what's happened in London, but, certainly, it's a discussion that's been taken place before, is that the avid warmongers that are blindly pushing into this desperate state of affairs in Washington, if we stop listening to them and start bringing in, you know, wise men and women who have a--would take us down a road of, I suppose, argument and, um, I don't know, how we would call it? Talking, using words as opposed to bombs. You can't drop a bomb on a principle and eradicate it. It just grows. And if you sit and discuss and negotiate, I think we can find a way out of this. But it certainly, it means withdrawal, and it means withdrawal fairly quickly.
Tavis: Yeah. I know you sound like a guy who could easily be president or prime minister.
Roth: Not a chance. Ha ha ha!
Tavis: Given our profession, you can be either one. But he actually is a fine actor, and you can catch him in either of two projects out right now: The Beautiful Country, or, of course, Dark Water, starring the one and only Tim Roth. Nice to have you here. All the best to you.