Tim Roth returns to TV as a recovering alcoholic cop in Tin Star
Tin Star deserves a gold star. This gripping 10-part series is part Western, part murder mystery, part comedy thriller, part revenge drama, and all entertainment.
The show by Rowan Joffe, who wrote 28 Weeks Later, focuses on Jim (played by Tim Roth), a jaded, recovering alcoholic British cop.
Escaping an unnamed trauma in the UK, he has moved with his family to take up a job as police chief in Little Big Bear, a sleepy town in the Canadian Rockies.
However, the tranquillity of life in Little Big Bear is rudely disturbed when a rapacious oil company, represented by a wily PR woman (Christina Hendricks, Mad Men), starts drilling.
Before you can say "eco-disaster", Jim is in fierce conflict with the corporation. Suddenly his family are in mortal danger.
Roth, who has made several memorable movies with Quentin Tarantino, including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms and The Hateful Eight, says he was drawn to the fact that Tin Star keeps taking the audience by surprise.
"I was intrigued by the anarchy of Tin Star," he says. "At the very beginning you feel that it's one thing and then Rowan flips it. Just when you think you're on the right track, it kicks in and twists you again. And it keeps doing it.
"When I was reading it, I wanted to know where it went. I was getting hooked. And I thought, 'That's what you hope an audience will do, too'."
Roth, who also directed the powerful movie The War Zone, goes on to fill in some of Jim's background.
"He's running away from himself and the life that they've led in England. He's taking his family with him and there is a big history to that which unfolds as the series goes on."
During filming, Roth met several real-life British police officers who had relocated from the UK to Canada in search of a quieter life.
"They come up and say, 'Hello, how are you doing?' They've got plenty of time for a cup of tea. There's not really that much going on – on the surface.
"They have to deal mostly with bars. They have to be careful with the drunk driving thing and there are brawls that they break up. It's that kind of stuff. A lot of the people they know by name and it is that kind of small community vibe."
The 56-year-old British actor, who won the Bafta for Best Supporting Actor Award for his performance in the 1996 movie Rob Roy, continues that, "Jim goes there for that. There's nothing to do but fish and he can't fish. So he has that life, but there's definitely something rolling under the surface that will be revealed as time goes on."
Tin Star underlines that often not very much separates the criminal from the law-abiding.
"That's always been the case," Roth reflects. "When I went to school in the Brixton area of South London, a lot of the lads at the time were going into the workforce in a few ways. They were going to work in a factory or a machine shop or they were going to go to prison, which was the other option. What those kids had on offer was very limited."
Roth, who starred in three seasons of the hit TV series Lie To Me, is one of many high-profile movie names who are now more than happy to headline in TV dramas.
"I'm completely open to the television notion," he says. "At one point I don't know if film actors were doing television in the States. Whereas in the UK, we'd already broken the barrier down completely – you could move from one thing to the other without any kind of judgment. In America that hadn't quite happened."
But the ground-breaking US TV crime drama The Wire changed everything, he says.
"Something as powerfully written as what David Simon was up to opened the door."
Tin Star is replete with intriguing puzzles just begging to be solved, but Roth is giving nothing away.
"I'm saying nothing," Roth says. "But the idea is that you want to watch more. That's what I like about this kind of television. It's really fun to watch."
Tin Star, Three, starts Monday September 11.
- TV Guide