Timothy Simon Roth (born 14 May 1961) is an English actor. He began acting on films and television series in the 1980s. He was among a group of prominent British actors of the era, the "Brit Pack". He gained more attention for his role on films, including The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Vincent & Theo, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Roth collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on several films, such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms and The Hateful Eight. For his performance in Rob Roy, Roth won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He made his directorial debut film The War Zone. He played Cal Lightman in the Fox series Lie to Me and Jim Worth / Jack Devlin in the Sky Atlantic series Tin Star. Roth also portrays Emil Blonsky / Abomination in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Roth was born in Dulwich, London, the son of Ann, a painter and teacher, and Ernie, a Fleet Street journalist and a painter. His father was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, to a family of Irish descent. Although he was not of Jewish background, his father changed his surname from "Smith" to the German/Yiddish "Roth" in the 1940s, as "an act of anti-Nazi solidarity".
Roth is a survivor of child sexual abuse, committed by his paternal grandfather, who he has stated sexually abused him from childhood until his early teen years. He first revealed that he was a victim of sexual abuse during press for his 1999 directorial debut, The War Zone, a film which dealt with the topics of incest and sexual violence within a family, but declined to name the perpetrator at that time. In December 2016, he gave an interview to the British newspaper The Guardian in which he revealed that his abuser was his grandfather, who had abused his father when he was a child.
Roth attended school in Lambeth, before moving to Croydon Technical School due to bullying. He attended the Strand School in Tulse Hill. As a young man, he wanted to be a sculptor and studied at London's Camberwell College of Arts.
Roth at the 2008 Marvel booth signing
Roth starred in the television films in the 1980s, including Made in Britain, Meantime and Murder with Mirrors. After his film debut The Hit, he earned an Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer. He played an East End character in King of the Ghetto, a controversial drama based on a novel by Farukh Dhondy set in Brick Lane and broadcast by the BBC in 1986. In 1990, he played Vincent van Gogh in Vincent & Theo, and Guildenstern in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. During the late 1980s, Roth, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis, Bruce Payne and Paul McGann, were dubbed the Brit Pack.
Roth collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on several films, including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Four Rooms. He played Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy. He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe. In 1996, he starred in Woody Allen's musical film Everyone Says I Love You. He played "Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900" in The Legend of 1900, and co-starred in the film Gridlock'd. He made his directorial debut film The War Zone, a film version of Alexander Stuart's novel. In 2001, he played General Thade the evil chimpanzee in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. For the Harry Potter film series, Roth declined the role of Severus Snape, which went to Alan Rickman.
Roth in 2014
Roth starred in Francis Ford Coppola's film Youth Without Youth, Michael Haneke's Funny Games, and played Emil Blonsky / Abomination, a Russian-born officer in the British Royal Marines Commandos, in The Incredible Hulk. Hulk director Louis Leterrier was a fan of Roth's work, with the director telling Empire magazine, "it's great watching a normal Cockney boy become a superhero!". From 2009 to 2011, he starred in Lie To Me as Cal Lightman, an expert on body language who assists local and federal law organizations about the crime. A fan of Monty Python since his youth, in 2009 he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut). Roth appeared on the cover of Manic Street Preachers' 2010 studio album, Postcards from a Young Man.
In 2012, he was announced as the President of the Jury for the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. He starred as FIFA President Sepp Blatter in United Passions, a film about football's governing body, released in 2014, to coincide with FIFA's 110th anniversary, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In 2015, he starred in the film Chronic which received a limited release in 2016. He later received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead nomination. Roth played Oswaldo Mobray in the ensemble western film The Hateful Eight. In 2019, Roth was to appear in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but his scenes were cut. He reprised his role as Emil Blonsky / Abomination in the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and in the upcoming Disney+ series She-Hulk (2022), both set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Roth has three sons. Jack, born to Lori Baker in 1984, is also an actor. Roth married Nikki Butler in 1993. They have two sons, Timothy Hunter (born 1995) and Michael Cormac (born 1996).
Roth is a supporter of the Green Party of England and Wales. He endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.