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Under the Dome
Jun 04 2010, 02:35 PM by LoriH65
The edgy, critically-acclaimed Academy Award-nominated English
actor, Tim Roth, stars in his first prime-time drama, the
remarkably intense and exciting Lie To Me. Based on the
real-life experiences of psychologist Paul Ekman, who studies how
facial expressions can betray emotions, Roth portrays the fictional
Dr. Cal Lightman, the world's leading deception expert. Like the
real-life Ekman, Dr. Lightman is a gifted scientist, but in Lie
To Me, he heads up an equally talented team of living and
breathing human lie detectors who can also study facial expressions
and body language to figure out if someone is lying - often taking
only mere minutes to discover if someone is being less than honest.
Also starring Kelli Williams, Brendan Hines, Monica Raymund,
Jennifer Beals, Mekhi Phifer and Hayley MacFarland, Lie To
Me chronicles the team of deception experts as they work with
law-enforcement agencies, lawyers and private companies to sort out
the facts in theft, kidnapping, murder cases and much more.
When you first started preparing for Lie To Me, you said
that you didn't want to learn deception techniques as well as Cal
because you wouldn't want to know how to detect lies that well in
real life. Have you managed to keep away from learning this for
ROTH: Yeah. (laughs) I'm quite serious about it. I met with Ekman -
Paul Ekman, whose science the show is kind of based on. And it's
fascinating stuff. And so are a bunch of his people that he works
with there. I started to read the books, and see some of the stuff
he gave me. And it's addictive, which is good for the show, but not
good for my house. (laughs)What did you do?
ROTH: I decided to really not do that. I think I know just a little
bit more than the audience knows, and so when I get a script, and I
find out something new -- which is what's kind of charming and
wonderful about the scripts quite often is the science itself --
I'm flabbergasted by it. And I'm taken with it. But in a way, it
keeps me anchored to the audience. And I've stayed true to it. I
know when my kids haven't done their homework.
Is there any danger that, when Cal Lightman is reading people -
even though it's based on the science -- is there any danger that
he can get it wrong?
ROTH: I think it's fascinating. I think part of the reason
I'm kind of drawn to the guy is the potential of getting it wrong,
which I think we can get into this season a bit more, and the
relationship that I have with Kelli's (Williams) character. I can
see the lie, but I don't know why they're doing what they're doing,
why they're trying to deceive me. And that's a lot of what Kelli's
character brings to it. I think that actors -- the job of acting -
is to lie and to lie well. (laughs)When Dr. Ekman was on the set with you, you said you were
ver uncomfortable having him there.
ROTH: Brendan (Hines) is quite good at being around him.
Monica (Raymund) is too, but I find it hard. I have to excuse
myself and go to the loo (restroom). I do feel like it is an odd
thing, and I think it's very much a part of what we're developing
here. I find it strange. I find it difficult. And it might have a
lot do with my personal history. I'm sure it must do. It's like
being under a microscope, an x-ray. They can see inside you. In
fact, that's not the case. But I find it very difficult to be
comfortable around this guy. And he's very, very charming and very
relaxed and personable guy. But I find it very, very hard. And as a
consequence, with my character, I think people find him hard to be
around quite often.Hayley (McFarland) plays Lightman's daughter on the show,
and I wonder what is like to be the father of a teenage girl and
see through the lies? Because, in one episode, she even tells him
that he really can't tell when she's lying.
ROTH: Well, she can take me out in a heartbeat, that one. One thing
we learned talking to the people that actually do this for a living
is that they're far more likely to make mistakes in their judgments
in their personal life - when it's closer to home.Mekhi Phifer plays an FBI agent who is very skeptical of
Lightman. How do you feel about that dynamic?
ROTH: Great. It's that he's not going to believe me also
until I'm proven. And that's a nice atmosphere to bring into our
office. It's like, 'Yeah, all right, prove it. And if you can't
prove it, I'll move on the way I normally do.' And that I liked
about his character. He can kick a door down. We are in that mode,
with Mekhi, where we're building to those episodes where we're
going to open up his character and really examine what lies beneath
the surface. And it's going to being quite shocking.
Throughout the seasons, will we start to see a friendship develop?
Won't it also be tested in terms of split loyalties throughout the
ROTH: A lot of what's happening -- you know, the first season, it
was kind of experimental in a way. And a lot of what's happening in
the second is that the characters were starting to surface. And a
lot of what we're doing is looking into why they are what they are
and how they behave and what their backgrounds are and their
secrets are and so forth. It should be quite interesting. It's
great stuff to act, I have to say.Lie To Me has just been picked up for another season. Was
making it past the first season of a TV show turn out to be what
you imagined it would be like?
ROTH: I'd say everything about it was entirely unexpected.
The first season was brutal. I mean, I've done a lot of heavy
schedules on films. But the first 13 episodes of this was
devastating. I put my foot down and got Sunday off. The hours were
very long. There was a lot of back and forth about scripts, about
work and rehearsal and the long hours of filming. It was absolutely
amazing. It was extraordinary difficult for me, and yet I find that
I loved it. I've worked in the theater and I've worked in film and
I've worked in television in a different way, but never in this
form before. I said to my wife, 'I'm so incredibly happy to be at
work,' and that's not something I can quite often say about being
on films. I love this gig, I really do. It's a privilege to be on
this. We're at the beginning of a new season, and I feel so much
better about that than I did at the beginning of the first. But you
learn. It's an experiment.
The third season of Lie To Me premieres Monday June 7
at 8.00 et/pt
By Earl Dittman