Tim Roth was on his way to the Cannes Film Festival a couple of years ago when a script for a film called Resurrection was sent by his agent.
My oldest son, Roth tells Den of Geek, came along and read it, and I was kind of shocked at the end. Its a psychological horror film, but it was a new thing to me. So he said, Give it to me.
Rebecca Hall plays Margaret, a successful career woman and single mother who is about to send her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) to college.
Margaret's fantasy of control is jeopardized by David's reappearance, a sadistic ex-lover from 22 years ago who abused her. He claims to have something that Margaret desires, something that has haunted her since she escaped David's toxic grasp.
What David says he has, and how he has it, transforms Resurrection from psychological thriller into surrealist horror, a difficult maneuver that Semans manages to execute with remarkable skill, aided in no small measure by Halls Margarets superb performances (following up her horrific turn in The Night House). Roth, who is also an amazing actor, makes his evil even more terrifying.
Roth got a second opinion from another trusted source, which sealed the deal for the actor. He recalls. My other son, who lives in California, read it as well, and he's like, Oh, yeah. 100 percent.
Roths' next meeting was with Semans to discuss how to play David's challenging role once the deal was settled.
Roth explains that there are a couple of approaches to going about it. One would be to play him as he was on the page and see what happens and what the audience thinks of it.
Roth had another suggestion. My suggestion, which [Semans] was interested in, was: okay, he's a great guy who's interested in assisting, trying to understand this woman, trying to offer her some potentially very helpful information, and then observing how Rebecca's character will respond to that and so on.
The most frightening aspect of Roths' portrayal, as well as the character's, is the almost reasonable, even-keeled way in which he once again slowly infects Margaret with his toxic effects, while still quietly steering their interaction in an increasingly bizarre direction.
Roth's interest in playing a villain goes back to his feature debut, The Hit (1984), as well as well-known roles in Rob Roy (1995), Planet of the Apes (2001) and The Incredible Hulk (2008), including his Emil Blonsky's return later this month in the Marvel series She-Hulk, as well as his fourth collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight (2015).
Regardless of the situation, Roth believes the key to playing a bad guy is to focus on the characters' humanity.
The actor asserts that he believes we all are. There's a tendency that we must be very careful with. You see actors fall into a bit of a trap, the whispering bad guy acting. It's not my cup of tea, to put it that way. Everyone is human. We have to bring some humanity to it, because that's more interesting.
Roth adds that while the plot moves into more disturbing, somewhat disturbing territory, he and director Semans wanted to maintain a consistency for David's character.
Roth explains that before we do something, me and the director, we worked on it, and Rebecca, seeing through the cameras' lens, made their own decisions, but as the actors in the process, its 100 percent true. This world is real.
Roth, who is a filmmaker himself, says he favorably cooperated with Semans's second feature and his first film in a decade, and says that working with first-time or relatively new filmmakers comes down to knowing what to look for in the connection between actor and director.
Roth recalls his role as a first-time director in QTs first feature, Reservoir Dogs. Youre looking for that new vision, youre looking for that energy. However, with any director, you're like, how do they interact with actors? Do you have any sort of connection with them before you shoot?
Roth says he has worked with directors who had no rapport whatsoever and who were successful, but this was not the case with Semans. Nor did the director appear to be unsure of what he was doing, Roth says. He felt like he was a filmmaker, and it was also about the production. Obviously, there was no naivete or that he was fresh out of the box.
Resurrection is now available in theaters and on video on demand.