Resurrection Star Tim Roth Tells Us About Playing A Creep And Remembers His First Role In The Hit [Interview]

Tim Roth is a terrifying presence in filmmaker Andrew Semans' "Resurrection." Like most films, the less an audience member knows about it going in, the better. But in short, it's a psychological horror film in which Margaret's (Rebecca Hall) life spirals when an old face from her past reappears. Roth plays the man, David, who returns to her with a horrifying, chilling smile.

Roth hasn't made too many horror films in his career. He doesn't exactly label this movie as "horror," either, but it is horrifying. Whatever the genre or label, Roth is now open to making more films in the same wheelhouse. Recently, we briefly spoke with the actor about his performance in "Resurrection," as well as his first film performance in Stephen Frears' classic crime film, "The Hit." (If you haven't seen that movie, see that movie.)

'What, are you crazy? You're doing this'

Something startling about David is his sense of calm. Was that your immediate thought on how to play him?

Well, it's not necessarily what was on the page, but the page is what gets you there. So when my kids told me to do this movie, I started the process of talking with the director, because they were already filming. I was on my way to Cannes when I read it. I was with my boy and I just, my jaw dropped. "What is this?"

So my son took it. He read it and said, "Yes, you're doing this." So that's how I came to do the movie. Yeah, picked up the phone and said, "Yep, I'm on board, apparently." And so then you go, "Okay, well how do I do this?" And my feeling is it wasn't what was on the page. I mean, what was clever about the script, as written, was that it gave you options and the thought that crossed my mind was he's a nice guy. He's just trying to help. And so, if you take that as your starting point and then play from that, it might be an intriguing thing for an audience.

Andrew was a hundred percent up for that. It's like, [David's] a nice guy. It's really, really trying to help this woman who seems a little bit troubled, so I could go down that road. It's as creepy as he gets, you know?

It's scary because he just seems to believe in everything he's saying.

Absolutely. It's real. You make that decision that ... what he's saying is true. It's all true. He can change his demeanor from the beginning of a sentence to the end of that sentence. The shifts you can play around with are fun. But then you got the audience going, like, "Oh, you're not going to go there. Oh no, they're not going there. Oh my God, they went there." And you get that. When you first read it, I did get that. You're saying, "Are they really going to... Oh my, and there it is." We had to make it. It's a real world that these people live in. This is real. And then you go to town, you start playing with that.

It's hard to be shocking these days, but that ending has quite an effect.

I haven't seen it yet.

Do you usually not watch your work, or have you just been busy?

No, no. Honestly, I've just got back from working in Australia. I haven't had a moment.

When you consider a movie, do you often ask your son, "Hey, what do you think about this?"

Well no, it was literally — it was a world that I'd not entered into before, I don't know what you would categorize this as, horror or not. My son was with me, we were traveling and I had to read this script. We were at the hotel, he was sitting a few tables away, and I was sitting, reading this thing going, "Oh my... " After I'd finished and I put it down, he went, "Give it to me, give it to me." And so he read it and went, "Oh, you're doing this." I was like, "Okay," picked up the phone, "I'm doing it."

That was my musician son. My other boy who sits at the beginning, sort of getting into the film world, read it as well. And he said, "Absolutely. What, are you crazy? You're doing this." And so that's how it took place.

It says a lot that you had an "Oh my God" reaction, considering some of the movies you've made.

[Laughs] I know. And also, doing something like this, it's a different world. It was quite a new experience for me, in a sense. So good to open that door and dive in and see what happens. And they pushed me through that door. They kicked me through it. I was like, "Okay." I had no say in it. It was fun.

'It opened doors for me that I didn't know existed in life'

You've made some psychological thrillers before.

But nothing that goes down this route, as in where the film ends.

But over the years, I'm sure you've been offered a lot of horror movies. Have they usually not been to your taste?

I did a film a long time ago called "Dark Water," which was, I just came in for a few scenes on that, which was a psychological thriller, a very dark thing. So that was [director] Walter Salles. I put my toe in the water a couple of times, but nothing where you have to dive in like this. It's an interesting world. I really liked it. I would be interested in doing more in that category, yeah.

This job must've been nice, too, since you really only have one scene partner with Rebecca Hall.

Yeah. She's in a different category. She's just otherworldly. You really have to up your game when you're working with an actor like that. She's so good. They were already filming, so she was deep in her character doing all of the stuff that I wasn't involved in. So I came in to her and she was already up there, as far as the performance level. I had to be ready, because she is remarkable. She's a proper actor. She's quite a thing. So you've got to try and find your A-game to work with her. She gives you so much, though. She gives you so much to play with.

You said you haven't seen the movie yet, but she's incredible in the long take, revealing the character's past.

Yeah, but it really requires somebody of that kind of caliber. Also, the bravery of the actor, too, because if you failed, if you couldn't pull that off, you would be in trouble. But she can pull that off. She's extraordinary, remarkable.

I have time for one more question, and it's an indulgent question, but one of my favorite movies is "The Hit."

Oh, wow.

It's a movie that has hardcore fans, like Christopher Nolan and Wes Anderson. Was there a point where you realized, "Oh, this one has really struck a chord with film fans?"

I got the job because of Joe Strummer from The Clash [recommended me]. And then I found myself in that role and Stephen Frears let me play around, because I was bringing an element to it that wasn't from his world and all of that stuff.

Everything was a surprise to me back then. Everything. The fact that I got awards and stuff. You didn't get that kind of thing. I didn't know that life. That was my first feature film. I knew nothing. It opened doors for me that I didn't know existed in life. It was an utterly extraordinary thing.

It's a fantastic notion and a wonderfully beautiful film. I mean, a road movie, a thriller road movie, crossing Spain with all those bizarre characters. It's a hell of an achievement. Think I read recently [about] Stephen, that he'd thought about remaking it or something, or somebody had wanted to do that. I don't know about a remake or a what-happened-to kind of situation, but he's just like, "Eh," and it comes up in interviews or something.

It was my first day at the races, really. It was definitely that. I'm glad that people see it as a good film, because I felt, even at the time I felt, "This is pretty good. This is pretty good. I'd see this."

It blew me away when I first saw it.

I'm glad about that. I'm so glad.

Well, thanks for letting me ask that self-indulgent question.

No, I love it. Love it. Thank you.

"Resurrection" opens in theaters on July 29 and hits On Demand on August 5, 2022.