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Offbeat

2 sides of Tim Roth on display in his pair of TV projects

AMC Networks shows Samantha Morton, left, and Tim Roth from the three-episode miniseries ‘Rillington Place.’ (AP)
NEW YORK: Tim Roth can not stay out of trouble. Since his first screen appearance in 1982’s “Made in Britain” as a skinhead with a swastika tattoo on his forehead, or in 1994’s “Pulp Fiction” as a petty crook holding up a coffee shop with his girlfriend, Roth has made an art of playing villains, whack jobs and wastrels — or, at least, someone having a very bad day.
Now Roth fans can delight in two new roles that add to his canon of discord.
In Amazon Prime’s 10-episode mystery thriller “Tin Star,” Roth stars alongside Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”) as a small-town police chief with a fearsome alter ego.
And in the three-episode miniseries “Rillington Place,” premiering Thursday on AMC Networks’ premium streaming service Sundance Now, Roth transforms himself into a sotto-voce sicko whose shy, retiring manner conceals his habit of killing young women in his section of downtrodden London.
“Rillington Place” is a masterpiece of pent-up tension and dread, with Roth virtually unrecognizable as John Christie, a real-life serial killer notorious for the carnage he committed in the 1940s and ‘50s under everyone’s noses — including his abused wife (portrayed magnificently by Samantha Morton).
“They lived in a very poor area of London, where he was everybody’s best friend and neighbor,” Roth says. “And he started to kill.” Christie would stash the bodies behind the walls or under the floorboards of his tumble-down flat.

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