Interview with Tim Roth of "Lie to Me" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Tim Roth of "Lie to Me" on FOX

Interview with Tim Roth of "Lie to Me" on FOX 9/18/09

"Lie to Me" is another good FOX drama, even though the premise does seem similar to "The Mentalist" or "Psych".  It puts its own spin on things, though, and has very little similarity to those other shows in most ways.  Its charismatic star is Tim Roth, a very gift actor. I was happy to be able to ask him a question in this FOX conference call.  I have to admit that I had a little trouble understanding him through his British accent, though.

FBC Publicity Ė Lie to Me
September 18, 2009/3:00 p.m. EDT
Michael Roach
Tim Roth


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for standing by and welcome you to the Lie to Me conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. In just a few minutes, weíll be conducting a question and answer session. And as a reminder, the conference is being recorded. Iíll now turn the conference over to Michael Roach. Please go ahead.

M. Roachr Thanks, everyone, for joining us on this conference call today with Tim Roth for the second season premiere of Lie to Me. The series stars Tim Roth, Kelli Williams, Brendan Hines, Monica Raymund, and in season two, theyíre joined by Mekhi Phifer and Hayley McFarland. Jennifer Beals also does have a recurring role this season. And as you know, Shawn Ryan has joined as a series show runner. And last reminder, Lie to Me premiers on Monday, September 28th at 9:00 p.m. following House on Fox. And thanks, weíre ready to open it up, Lori.

Moderator Thank you. And weíll go to the line of Suzanne Lanoue with TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue Letís see, is there anything you can tell us, that youíre allowed to tell us, this season about whatís coming up, people can look forward to?

T. Roth Well, itís a much more character-based scripts that are coming forward, and so youíre going to find out a little bit more about the history of the characters and Lightmanís connection to them and so on. And I think the aim really was to make each episode a quality effort Ö and exciting drama Ö.on its own.

Youíll see thereís going to be an investigation of my relationship with my ex-wife. And I donít know; I donít know what Iím allowed to tell you really.

Suzanne Lanoue Oh. Alright, no spoilers.

T. Roth Yes.

Suzanne Lanoue Well, I just saw The Hulk for the first time the other day. You were great in that, by the way.

T. Roth Oh, thanks, Love, great.

Suzanne Lanoue Do people ever come up to you and say Ė and think Ė get mixed up that youíre the character and say, ďHey, am I lying?Ē

T. Roth Yes, you think Ė people are quite excited by the science aspect of it, but I assure them I have no idea what theyíre thinking.

Suzanne Lanoue Well, thatís good to know.

T. Roth Yes.

Moderator And weíll go next to the line of Maureen Ryan with The Chicago Tribune. Please go ahead.

M. Ryan I wanted to just ask you about this season versus last season. Any show in its first season is going to probably have some growing pains, but this show, obviously, did well. Whatís it been like, specifically, to have Shawn Ryan onboard, and what are the differences that youíve noticed with the changes that have come through? I know that thereís going to be some changes behind the camera and things like that. So if you could just talk about this season versus last and what your take on that is.

T. Roth Well, yes. Last season was Ė I thought of it as an experiment, really. Itís my first experience of doing this, and it was Ė I found it quite difficult at times. And we were working on stories just to find out Ė trying to find our feet, really, and I think by the end of the season we did. And when Shawn came on, he came on to do a couple of episodes last season, and I think itís episodes 11 and 12 he came on to do, and with that, he brought a couple of writers in, and that was when I think we really found our strife, found a way of making this work, so it was very good when he came onboard this year.

The changes are many, but the one that I suppose I notice more is in the way the writing takes place and in the kind of scripts that the writersí room are generating. The new writers that came onboard come from all walks of life. Theyíre very different and have very different ideas. And Shawnís the kind of lynchpin, really, brings them all together and oversees things, and itís been an incredibly creative force.

And then we have Dan Sackheim and Vahan Moosekian and those guys have taken on the look and the feel of the show and the casting, so itís a very Ė it is a different animal, but I think its heart is still with last season, at least with the end of last season and moving on from there. But itís been an extraordinary experience. Iíve loved it this year, really have. Last year was a struggle. This year has been an absolute pleasure.

Iím sorry; Iím standing in a parking lot.

M. Ryan Is it more of a character Ė

T. Roth Itís been an absolute pleasure. Hmm?

M. Ryan Sorry, just one follow up. Is it more of a character drama, would you say, in terms of Ö?

T. Roth It is, which means that youíve got some acting to do, which is great. Hang on a second. I just want to come inside. Yes, itís much more for us to think about and to emote than last season. Last season, we were scrambling around a little bit, I think. Although, we did come up with some good stuff, and it seemed to have hooked an audience, which is a Ė always, I guess, a good thing, right?

M. Ryan Right. Well, thank you so much, Tim.

Moderator Thanks, sir. Our next question from the line of Alice Chapman-Nuggen with Times Courier. Please go ahead.

A. Chapman-Nuggen I have just a couple of questions. One is, do you ever find yourself trying to analyze people?

T. Roth I suppose you canít Ė I try not to learn this stuff as much as possible, and I just deal with what I have to deal with on a daily basis in the script, but some of it does sink in. And I find mostly itís fun when Iím watching politicians on the telly.

A. Chapman-Nuggen Yes.

T. Roth Thatís always good fun, to put it to use in that. And I know a lot of people do play around with it, but thatís where I like to see if I can figure it out.

A. Chapman-Nuggen Well, now, I was wondering, is there a particular story line that you would like to see your character delve into, in the future?

T. Roth Thereís one we just completed shooting on one, which was very good, a lot of fun about a guy who shows up from my past, 22 years ago, he rolls up in my office and a lot of trouble ensues. And that was very, very well written and cast. We had Lenny James come over and play that and play the character in that who then generates a very interesting accent.

A. Chapman-Nuggen Oh, okay, thank you.

T. Roth And, yes, good stuff.

Moderator And our next question from the line of Brian Fitzpatrick with Please go ahead.

B. Fitzpatrick First of all, I just wanted to say that Iím a huge fan of yours since seeing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead many Ö ago.

T. Roth Oh, right, yes.

B. Fitzpatrick So thanks for talking with us today. Do you find that as youíve kind of delved into Dr. Lightman a bit more and as cynical as he is, do you find yourself to be as cynical as the character, or are you more above that or have a different point of view?

T. Roth Well, I can be. No, I can be. Yes, so Iím sure thatís a trait that I find easy to play in him. Yes, I can be quite a cynic.

B. Fitzpatrick Thatís great. What do you find is the most difficult or enjoyable aspect of playing a character? Is it the jargon or the attitude or the combative approach?

T. Roth I think initially it was the science and how Ė and also, thereís a certain, just on a technical note, really, itís Ė you have to Ö to the plots. Thereís a certain about of exposition that you have to deal with, and I found that that was very difficult in a limited amount of time to slide that into the audience and not to hit it on the head with a hammer, so that was an aspect that was tricky. It gets easier. The better the writing, the easier it gets. And this season, itís been really very good, I think, very high standards.

Moderator Our next question from the line of Jonathan Toomey with TV Squad. Please go ahead.

J. Toomey I have a couple follow ups from some stuff that other people have asked. Iím wondering; you were saying how, obviously, the show is a lot more character-based and last season didnít really feature a huge serialized element other than Fosterís husband and the payoff in the finale. Are we going to see any bigger serialized elements this year, something that might stretch the whole season?

T. Roth I think youíre going to see Ė yes, I think you are. And, for example, my relationship with Jennifer Bealsí character there and take it Ė it has a growth and builds. But I think with the characters overall youíll be seeing Ė there will be connections between episodes.

J. Toomey Okay.

T. Roth And the policy is, I think, at the network is standalone. Everybody wants standalone, which is difficult. It would be nice to see some double ones, but maybe weíll get lucky.

J. Toomey Trying to balance. Okay, cool. And then the other quick question I had is, you were saying if someone were to bump into you in the street, you donít know what theyíre thinking, or you werenít trying to analyze this too much, but what kind of research did you do when you went into this role?

T. Roth Well, I read some of Eckmanís books and this. And I met with him, and I met with a couple of his people that work with him. And they came to the set and so on. And then thereís some disks and stuff that they gave me and some online training guides and do a bit of that. But after awhile, I just thought Iíd put it aside. I didnít really want to bring it into my house.

Moderator And our next question, from the line of Jim Halterman with Progressive Television. Please go ahead.

J. Halterman Hey, Tim, loved the season premier. That was really good.

T. Roth Oh, youíve seen it. Oh, thatís good.

J. Halterman Yes, I did see it. I just watched it this morning. I wanted to know, thereís a moment in there where Cal really pushes the envelope trying to get some information out of the Erika Christensen character. I donít want to give too much away for people who havenít seen it, but do you always agree with what Cal does as an actor, or do you just kind of go with it because thatís your job as an actor?

T. Roth Yes.

J. Halterman How do you reconcile that?

T. Roth No, I donít necessarily agree with his methods, but I find that appealing. Itís the sort of thing that you wouldnít do yourself, but you get a chance to do when you play the character. So, no, wonít necessarily agree with him completely, but I think thatís quite a luxurious position. And youíre going to see a lot more that too, that kind of behavior.

J. Halterman Good.

T. Roth Yes. Thereís a fun episode there, very, very good.

J. Halterman Yes, it was really intriguing.

T. Roth She was terrific after all, Erika.

J. Halterman She really was. At first I was like, ďWait Iíve seen her.Ē And then, of course, I was like, ďSheís fantastic.Ē

T. Roth Yes.

J. Halterman And also, when we go into the second season, is the grind of the TV series, are you kind of getting used to it now, or are you still kind of shocked at how much work goes into it?

T. Roth It is a ton of work. But when it works, there is Ė itís very long hours. Itís a high page count. But when youíre enjoying it, when you get to the end of a day, or we get to the following morning, if you feel like youíve accomplished something, then Iím okay with it. And I do very much feel that the season Ė that everyone whoís Ė from my assistant through to the set dressers to everyone, the V.P.ís and so on, everyone feels that theyíre involved in something thatís very creative, and I think thereís a satisfaction to be had in that. Of course, you want your sleep, but hopefully, weíll be around to do this for awhile. Itís a real pleasure at the moment. Iím happy in my job.

J. Halterman Excellent. Well, good luck with the second season.

T. Roth Thanks, mate.

Moderator And we go next to the line of Daniel Fienberg with Please go ahead.

D. Fienberg I want to follow up on something you were just talking about. With the addition of several new cast members this season, does it feel like more of an ensemble? Do you have more people to play off of?

T. Roth I have more people to play off, but Iím still working the same amount of days. I just said goodbye to Brendan. Heís got 12 days off. And I thought Ė Iím wondering what that must be like.

It just gives me more to play with. Iím sure thereíll be more characters down the line. I know thereís hints of girlfriends and that kind of behavior, and maybe theyíll be recurring, maybe they wonít be. I wouldnít be surprised if theyíre not. Would like them.

But, no, it just gives me more people to bounce off, and I must say I do enjoy that. And Mekhi and Jennifer are terrific actors to work with, so Ė

D. Fienberg Well, you mentioned earlier that the first season was sort of an experiment for you. As you were shooting those early episodes, did you have a sense that you wanted things to take this different turn creatively that theyíve taken?

T. Roth Yes, very much so. I was desperate to get some character stuff to play and some drama to play and not just be doing procedural work. And as we neared the end of the season, and was Ė I think it was episode 11 that Shawn did with Liz and Sarah, the writing team that went with him, it was one about a rapist that was in prison, a copycat or something.

D. Fienberg That was a great Ö.

T. Roth It was an interesting episode. And suddenly, I found that was when I was Ė earlier, when I read the script for it, okay, you can actually mix the two. You can have the character-driven stuff, and you can have a good Ö to tell, and thatís when they came onboard. Thatís been the starting point this season. And itís been a lot of interesting stuff to do every day. Weíre happy at work.

Moderator And weíll go next to the line of Troy Rogers with the Please go ahead.

T. Rogers The last time we spoke, the show was just about to premier, and I wanted to get an update on your skills at reading micro expressions.

T. Roth Oh, really.

T. Rogers I know you said you donít bring it home, but has it seeped in to where youíre looking at people, and they maybe look out to the left, and youíre like, ďTheyíre lying.Ē

T. Roth Yes. I donít know if I know that much more, but I do Ė you can tell more. I donít look at specific stuff when Iím looking at somebody, but I think because weíre taught weíre dealing with this stuff every day at work here, I think I can judge a little bit more, maybe.

T. Rogers Okay.

T. Roth Iím trying to put it off.

T. Rogers Alright, so maybe Ė

T. Roth But I think thereíll be more than last time, yes.

T. Rogers So maybe itís like an osmosis thing. Youíre getting it without even trying.

T. Roth Yes.

T. Rogers Okay.

T. Roth Yes, it seeps in, yes.

T. Rogers I also want to know, even though this seems like a great tool for law enforcement and the military, can you also see a downside to it, where it could be used for nefarious purposes?

T. Roth Oh, yes. Thereís a bad side of everything. Yes, you could. I suppose you could use it. Iím trying to think. Corporate, big corporations, jury tampering.

T. Rogers Spies maybe.

T. Roth You know what I mean? My character has been banned from every casino in Vegas. But, no, I think that there is that, but it is used. Eckman does use it for a very wide range of Ė his methods are used by a wide range of organizations.

T. Rogers. Great. One more quick thing. I havenít seen the premier yet, but I was wondering, what was it like to work with Erika, and how did she tackle the multiple personality thing?

T. Roth Very well. She was terrific. She was Ė I had seen her in Traffic. I did Traffic, but I didnít know it was the same girl. I found her to be completely grounded, hysterically funny, very funny girl and way older than her years and with some serious acting jobs, and we laughed a lot, which is always a good thing, very, very important.

T. Rogers Excellent Ö.

T. Roth So, yes, she stepped right up. She had a lot of work to do, and she tackled it very, very well. Itís just very subtle. Ö I think some of what she is doing. I donít know what Ė I havenít seen the episode myself, so Ö.

T. Rogers Okay, excellent. Thanks a lot and good luck with the second season.

Moderator And we have no further questions at this time.

T. Roth Okay, great.

More info about the show on our primetime forum!



Erika Christensen ("The Perfect Score") Guest-Stars

The Lightman Group investigates a murder case where a woman with multiple personalities (guest star Christensen) may either be a witness or the killer. Meanwhile, the U.S. government hires the firm to interrogate a potential Supreme Court nominee in "The Core of It" season premiere episode of LIE TO ME airing Monday, Sept. 28 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

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