How Tim Roth got his part in Quentin Tarantino film 'Reservoir Dogs'
(Credit: Miramax Films / Press)

Tim Roth landed his part in ‘Reservoir Dogs’ by getting drunk with Quentin Tarantino

I loved history because to me, history was like watching a movie.” – Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film Reservoir Dogs facilitated his overnight transformation from an obscure unproduced scriptwriter and part-time actor to one of the most influential filmmakers of the ‘90s. Starring Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen, Tarantino, and criminal-turned-author Edward Bunker as diamond thieves, the film does away with the normative, sequential depiction of crime and jumps back and forth between pre and post-robbery events while occasionally putting the narrative on pause to let the characters discuss seemingly irrelevant topics such as the importance of tipping.

Tim Roth, who plays Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs, has collaborated multiple times with Tarantino over the years, appearing in 1994 effort Pulp Fiction and 2015 film The Hateful Eight. In an interview, Roth revealed how he ended up getting the part in Reservoir Dogs after the actor had initially refused to audition for Tarantino’s directorial debut because he claimed he was “crap’ at auditioning for parts but the film’s brilliant script caught his eye. “Within 20 pages, I was going, ‘Oh, I want to be in this,’” he said of the script. “It’s so beautifully written. It’s so keenly and intelligently written. And it’s also very funny.”

After reading the script, Roth agreed to meet Tarantino and co-star/producer Harvey Keitel to discuss the proposition but he still refused to read for the part. When Keitel had to leave, Roth and Tarantino decided to go to a pub to grab a few drinks and came back to Roth’s apartment with more beer from a convenience store. While drunk, they “proceeded to read the entire script… every part in it about 10 times because we were hammered by then. And that’s how I got the job.”

This isn’t the only time that Tarantino got an actor drunk in order to convince him to appear in one of his films. The acclaimed filmmaker used the same trick with Michael Keaton to get him to play the role of an ATF agent Ray Nicolette in his 1997 film Jackie Brown. “We go out on Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles), Quentin has us drinking Jagermeister,” Keaton revealed. “Firstly, who drinks Jagermeister man? Anyway, I don’t know what happened but the next thing I’m heading home and I’m doing the movie.”

Watch one of Tim Roth’s iconic scenes from Reservoir Dogs, below.

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