In Sky Atlantic’s new drama, Tin Star, Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs), Genevieve O’Reilly (Rogue One) and Abigail Lawrie (Murdered for Being Different) star as a British family who recently moved to Canada, where father Jim (Roth) has got a new job as a police chief. Meanwhile, Oliver Coopersmith (iBoy) plays a mysterious British outsider who intrudes on their happy situation. The murky, twist-filled revenge tale is released in full on September 7 on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV, and season 2 has already been commissioned. NME caught up with the cast to talk the dangers within the show – and the many dangers facing them on set.
Tin Star is partially a fish-out-of-water story about Brits in Canada. Why that transition?
Tim Roth: “There’s an open door policy for policemen who work in England to go and work there, and quite often when they’ve had enough of this, they go and work in small towns there – we met them. Mostly what they deal with is drunk drivers and breaking up fights. It’s an easier option that what they’ve been through.”
Genevieve O’Reilly: “We stayed in Calgary, but we filmed just outside Calgary in locations that were truly cinematic. You can see why people are seduced by that way of life.”
TR: “And my character Jim Worth is hiding out, because he’s also a drunk. He’s trying to stay sober. That’s what his deal is.”
GOR: “He’s been sober for a number of years now. That’s quite central to the platform the whole piece begins on: you have a family dealing with addiction.”
What’s the biggest challenge of playing an alcoholic?
TR: “We talked quite hot and heavy about it. There’s a point when you don’t get drunk, but he will certainly lead people to believe that he is not functioning – it becomes useful I would say. There’s a Jekyll & Hyde kind of vibe to the situation as it progresses. It gets unleashed.”
Can you tell us a little bit more about his alter-ego, Jack?
TR: “In a way, Angela is married to two people…”
GOR: “I don’t agree with that… The platform that it sets up is a man with an alcohol addiction and what happens at the end of episode one propels us into grief and revenge as a family. ‘Unleashed’ is a really good word. With Jack, you see a reflection in the mirror – he’s maybe one dominant voice within his head. Angela – my character – her husband has many sides to him, but probably two that are more dominant sides. One is Jim and one is Jack. As a woman, as a wife and as a mother, she has to navigate them.”
Will viewers always be rooting for the family?
Oliver Coopersmith: “Yeah, I think you will. They’re a great mob. The family are quite wild and rather wonderful I think. There’s tons of threads that you guys were up to when I had a day off.”
Was it easy for the 3 of you to find a family dynamic on set?
Abigail Lawrie: “It was. We met at the read-through.”
GOR: “I’m going to tell a secret now: everyone was in this really big room in Canada and apparently Abigail [Lawrie], Tim and I were initially in different locations around the table, but Tim had gone in earlier and said ‘We’ll have the family together.'”
TR: “It was a family. Imagine how difficult it would be if we didn’t get on and you had to force that.”
GOR: “Everyone was on the same page. We all wanted to enjoy that first episode together. We really had a good time.”
GOR: “Tim would get really protective over Abigail. It was like ‘Jesus Christ Tim, we’re pretending!'”
TR: “I didn’t approve of her costumes and that became part of the improv…”
What was the reaction to you guys like from the locals in Calgary?
AL: “Everyone was really welcoming.”
OCS: “You’ll be walking down the street and they’ll look you in the eye and smile at you. It’s a bit like: ‘What do you want?!'”
TR: “I [initially] thought it was all over the top. In one scene there was a guy with a motorised wheel chair and a flag – but then you’d see them [in real life].”
Did you all have to have gun training?
OC: “Our first day, I was jet-lagged out of my arse and they took us out to a shooting range.”
GOR: “We’d just landed it was a massive place. It might as well have been a shop, it was a culturally significant moment for us. They use real guns and real stuff: we had the goggles and the guns and the ammunition and lots of talking – all very serious. And then…”
OC: “Basically, you fired the gun…”
GOR: “I shot you! Day one!”
OC: “You fired a pistol or something and then I sort of went: ‘Ooh that’s hot!’ I was trying to put on a straight face. I get back in the car and was like: ‘Cor, what’s happened there?’ There was a lump and a dot, but it was quite hot and itchy. I thought that was weird. Eight weeks later it had gone into some sort of… it wasn’t infected, but it wasn’t very nice. I went to the props guy and said: ‘I think I’ve got something in me.’ He said, no it’s impossible, it can’t happen. They sent me for an X-ray and there’s a tiny bit of shrapnel. I have no idea how it got in. The end was so sharp. I’ve got it actually, it’s next to my bed in an envelope labelled shrapnel.”
Would you say Tin Star is a Western with a contemporary twist?
TR: “Oh yeah. That was definitely a starting point.”
OC: “It’s a revenge story in many ways isn’t it. That feels quite Western.”
Oliver, can you tell us a little bit more about your character?
OC: “Whitey comes in in episode 2 and it becomes quickly apparent that he’s there for a reason, but also that he is intrigued and infatuated by Anna (Abigail Lawrie). But maybe his mission gets a little bit blurred and gets a little bit to close to Anna and feelings get confused.”
Were there any funny moments on set?
GOR: “One of the funniest days on set was the day us four were around the table eating duck. It’s just a dinner table scene but it took all day and Ollie decided at the beginning of the day, ‘I am going to eat’. By the end of the day, he’d eaten, like, a whole duck. We all got the giggles so bad because we thought he was going to vomit.”
OC: “The hardest bit was I had to do quite a bit of training because Whitey is quite lean, so I had to go to the gym a lot and they put me on a strict diet. We put in a lot for just a few seconds of footage. I was a bit boring, we’d go out for dinner and I’d just eat vegetables.”
Was it dangerous out in Calgary?
TR: “There are various theories about how to deal with bears, but it’s real. The other one they don’t tell you about is the mountain lion situation. Tourists get killed in that area because the cats are up a tree. They drop on you. They come out of the air and they eat you.”
In the bear meeting what did they tell you you had to do if you saw one?
AL: “It was a bit like a Little Britain sketch.”
TR: “They had sprays, there was ‘make sound’, ‘be still’ and ‘run’ – all depending on the bear. We don’t know!”
AL: “None of us came across a bear though.”