Despite a successful film career and a hit television show taking off, British actor Tim Roth fears unemployment more than ever.

The veteran actor spoke to Metro about joining the TV world with his new show Lie to Me and admitted even with an entire first season almost wrapped up, it’s hard to break away from actors’ paranoia.

“That fear of unemployment, I think it’s part of the makeup of British actors so it hasn’t gone away at all for me. I’m always thinking about it,” Roth said.

Roth, who turns 48 this month, has made a career out of playing wounded, dark characters on both sides of the moral line, whether in his Academy Award nominated performance as the cruel villain in the historical drama Rob Roy or embodying both revulsion and sympathy as the memorable Mr. Orange in the gangster flick Reservoir Dogs.

Now Roth has taken on the leading role in a brand new crime drama based on the true-life research of celebrated psychologist Paul Ekman, an expert in human body language noted for his prowess at detecting when a person is lying. Roth plays the fictional Dr. Cal Lightman as an expert who uses his uncanny skills at detecting lying to assist police in solving cases.

In real life, Roth says he’s no expert on lying but admits lies, especially the little ones we all tell to avoid confrontation or hurting someone’s feelings, are sometimes a necessary part of life.

“The thing about lying is that you do it for all kinds of reasons — the idea of telling the truth all the time is quite exhausting. If people are deceiving you, it’s often with the best of intentions,” he said.

When it comes to doing television, Roth relishes both the chance to tell a new story every week and the hectic speed at which TV productions move.

“When you’re working on a movie, you’re working on one story. The goal is broader on TV and you’re working on a much faster pace, which I enjoy,” Roth said.

Whereas movie productions can offer plenty of time to polish a scene, Roth says television’s breakneck pace forces the actor to trust his or her instincts more.

“You don’t have much time to rehearse! I have a huge amount of respect for television actors now,” Roth said.

Lie to Me has already attracted comparisons to Fox’s other cynical-genius-does-good drama, House, and viewership has been steady since the show premiered in January, suggesting Roth’s perpetual job-fears might be misplaced once and for all.

Season finale

• Lie to Me airs Wednesday nights on Global and Fox — catch the season finale tomorrow night.

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