When British actor Tim Roth, who’s best known for his movie roles, was asked to star in the one hour TV drama, Lie to Me, he immediately turned it down.
“I said no a couple of times, and then I started taking it seriously,” he recalls.
“I called around to a few actor friends, and they told me that a television job is seriously hard work and while a lot of them were dissatisfied as actors, they were happy with their bank balance.”
He quickly adds: “From a creative standpoint, I was dissatisfied in the first season because I found it hard to adjust to the formula, but then I saw you could actually do something about that if you take it seriously. We gradually made a few changes in his (character’s) behaviour and in the scripts and now I’ve grown to love this role.”
Lie to Me is inspired by the scientific discoveries of a real life psychologist who can read clues embedded in the human face, body and voice to expose the truth and lies in criminal investigations.
Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman of the Lightman Group, who is the world’s leading deception expert.
If you lie to Lightman, he’ll see it in your face, your posture and hear it in your voice. If you shrug your shoulder or even rotate your hand, he will spot the lie. He heads up a team of experts who assist federal law enforcement, government agencies and local police with the most difficult cases.
Roth admits it’s still very hard for him to watch himself on the small screen.
“I got into the habit of watching the show because my kids wanted to watch it,” he squirms. “But after a few episodes, I had to stop because I saw what I was doing wrong and now I’m changing the direction of my character.”
“Well I have to keep a check on my London accent for a start. I’ve made it much broader on the show.
“And there is Lightman’s physical gestures and gait. It came out of humour, but I think I went too far with it, so I’m pulling it back a bit,” he smiles. “Lightman likes to provoke people. That’s who he is. He behaves in a way that he thinks will disrupt the person he’s investigating and then he focuses in on them. But I think I went too far in being overly physical which in fact, my wife pointed out to me. So you’ll notice in future episodes, I’ll be doing less of a funny walk.”
Roth confesses he has learned how to ‘read’ people’s body language and expressions quite a bit since the show began.
“I spent the first two seasons trying to learn nothing at all, but it does bleed in,” he nods. “I’m really bad at it, though. I generally get everything wrong. I go: “You’re lying right?” They go: “No.” I think actors tend to do the micro-expression stuff anyway. That’s our trade, after all.”