The Version Interview... Tim Roth on Sky Atlantic's huge new drama, Tin Star.
Dramatic mountain landscapes provide the backdrop for Sky Atlantic's major new 10 part drama series tin Star.
Helmed by British director Rowan Joffe, the series stars Tim Roth and Mad Men's Christina Hendricks.
The series sees Roth's police chief confronted with the brutal and mysterious murder of a member of his family. His obsessive quest to find the truth drives a story about love, corruption, grief and revenge.
Tin Star will be Sky Atlantic's fourth original serialised drama to premiere this year.
Tim Roth tells us more...
What caught your eye about Tin Star?
You know what, I wasn’t particularly looking to do something in television. I had already done a series in America [Lie to Me], and that was hard work but fun, which is always good. Then this popped up. It had an anarchy and chaos to it that I really liked, and not an accidental chaos, it had a feeling of madness. There is a monstrous confusion to the character that I think is fun to play. And the awful bombshell that hits at the end of the first episode spurs the remaining nine to a point I found to be intriguing.
Tell us a bit about Jim.
There are real-life people who have been working as police officers in Britain who take jobs in small towns in far-flung places just for a quiet life. That’s the position Jim is in. He is a recovering alcoholic, and he comes out for the quiet life with his family. That is the good guy, who is trying to be a regular bloke. But he is still quite thinky. And then there is the other guy when he falls off the wagon. I won’t get into it too much but there is a much wilder version of the character who appears that we are not expecting. It is tricky to say what they are but both of them are quite bonkers.
How has it been playing two roles, but as one character?
They are very different versions of the same man. But there are common denominators that anchor him however wild he goes: his wife and daughter are the gravity of his whole character. One of the most powerful things about the show is the family dynamic. As wild as it gets, that is what holds it together.
How was working with Abigail and Genevieve as a family on set?
Both of them are wonderful. When we arrived we went straight into a read through, then we had very little time to prep before we had to start shooting, so we improvised as often as possible and kept each other close. I think we had three days before we started filming and we kept that improvisation going into the shoot, and that kind of set the tone. They are sharp and fast and think on their feet, which is what you need when you are doing TV.
There is humour in the show but it is also very dark. Can you tell us how that comes through?
That’s layered into the scripts as we get them. When we started filming, Rowan directed the first one. We improvised a lot [for the family scenes], with Rowan going yeah, “do that”, “say that”, “that’s great”, “take that out”. It kind of set the tone for how we proceeded, so hopefully that humour comes through in the piece – a lot of it is our sense of humour and hopefully you will get to enjoy it.
Were there any surprises along the way?
Really the only surprise, which shouldn’t have been surprising, is that it was pretty tiring. I have done it before, and in a much more gruelling way than this. But this is a 10-act play and we are doing it in sequence pretty much, so the challenge is trying to keep the material fresh and to stay on top of the writing, which is what we all do together.
Were there any other challenges from working in the Rockies?
The altitude for me was a challenge. Some people don’t really get hit by it, but the pressure change was hard. And you could see the chinooks, oh man you could see these different weather systems coming in and that was scary. But we were always busy. When you weren’t busy, that’s when it got to you. You really just needed to be busy the whole time and work through the week.
Did you see any Grizzlies?
We had a bear meeting on set first day, because they were foraging at that point and there’s a lot of food on set. There are various theories on how to deal with bears depending on the bear – it’s very real. The other one they don’t tell you about is the mountain lion situation. Tourists get killed in that neck of the woods because the cats are up the tree and they drop on you. They’re not coming at you ‘this way’, they’re coming out of the air. And they eat you. They lose a couple of people every year. They had crew members doing tree spotting especially.
How does working on a big series like this compare to film?
Well, that snobbery between TV and film has gone now. I think that attitude disappeared very quickly in Britain, I think we were the first ones to do it, we had Ken Loach and all of those guys so that was the high end for us. But this is the first time I have done a continuous series with evolving episodes. You have to think about the whole arc of the character, which is very difficult.
But it does feel like you are growing as you go, like what the hell are you going to do next?
Oh my God they just… and that is the excitement that should be in play for the audience and also for the actors as we discover where we are going. It is tricky, I think that it is a fascinating format.
Have you got any favourite scenes or moments that stand out?
For me it’s the family stuff, but there was also a scene we did over three days with a young actor, Tobi, who plays a character called Godswill. He had never done anything like this before and we spent three days doing a very rough and violent sequence and he had the biggest smile on his face. He was just grinning from beginning to the end and he was doing some very rough-and-tumble stuff. That I like, I will always remember that.
All episodes of Tin Star are available 7 September exclusively on Sky Atlantic and TV streaming service NOW TV.