In the wake of Lone Star’s demise, there is a silver lining — Lie To Me comes back to the FOX lineup a month ahead of schedule. Initially slated for a November 10 premiere, Lie To Me‘s third season will take over the con-man drama’s timeslot beginning Monday October 4 at 9p ET.
Tim Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman, the brilliant, if mischievous, psychologist who interprets body language and microexpressions to determine when a person is lying. He runs a private consultant agency, The Lightman Group, with a team of natural and academically trained readers, including Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams).
Last season left off with a blow to The Lightman Group’s relationship with the FBI, as well as Lightman’s discovery that his teenage daughter, Emily, had started dating – and then some.
Roth recently sat down for an interview, and couldn’t sound more delighted about Lie To Me‘s success.
On moving up the premiere date
Roth: It’s kind of a bit of a shock, really, but a good thing for us. Obviously, a very sad thing for the Lone Star guys because anyone who does this kind of job knows how much is put into it. So, we know that some people over there will be very, very sad about what’s happened.
But we just got shoved into that slot. We were kind of ready for it. We’re ready enough for it to be okay, that we can be in continuous production. We just finished episode six last night and started episode seven, yesterday, as well. But it put the post-production guys into a real kind of frenzy.
On the new season
Roth: The Lightman group have severed their ties with the FBI. The reason for that was the writers felt – and I think it had nothing to do with Mekhi [Phifer] because Mekhi is fantastic and completely loony and really funny – that if the doors were opened too easily for Lightman, then we don’t have this mischief and the craziness of him trying to open these doors. And the FBI, as soon as they do that, an element of the character and the fun of the series is missed.
So, what you have is [Lightman] working outside the law and in possibly illegal ways, but still being persistent and irritatingly, kind of strident. That’s the door that’s opened up. And so his connection to possible criminality, or criminal behavior, mixed with his brand of ethics and morality is what you’re going to see. A lot more trouble, really; a lot more mischief, too.
We do have new characters. There is a character that came up in the last episode of the second season played by Monique Curnen, who’s a crooked cop and she comes up now again and that’s his connection with the law. But it’s not an easy one and it’s a very, very fun one. You’ll see her in the first episode and you’ll see her in more episodes.
As far as episodes concerned, we’ve had some really good ones already. The bank heist in the first episode, I thought was really good. We did a very tough gang bang of one, episode three with Curnen. Then we did a really interesting and fun, like Thomas Crown Affair thing with Tricia Helfer [of Battlestar Galactica], which I really enjoyed and she was a complete surprise to me. I didn’t know who she was because I don’t watch television very much. But she was terrific. So, that was a great episode and a lot of fun and there’s more.
On Lightman’s relationship with his daughter, Emily
Roth: Well, she’s been interested in dating for a while. She’s been having sex for a while, which is the thing I found out in the last episode of season two and it’s going on from there. The thing that’s interesting for me – I don’t have a daughter, I’ve got three sons and so I have a surrogate daughter in Emily. I kind of play around with the notion of it as me, Tim, and also with the Lightman thing.
I think that their relationship is kind of grown up and juvenile at the same time. She is the one person, even more so than the Foster character, that he truly, truly loves and that he tries to understand. And I think he’s quite a good parent, really. Despite being completely bonkers, I think that his parenting skills with her are very adult, whereas most are quite juvenile.
So, when we get into the new season, when we get to her, she is driving. She’s more and more, kind of leaving the nest, and she has new boyfriends on the scene and it’s a different kind of – she’s a young woman. He can no longer think of her as a child. But it’s pretty tough for him to think of her as a young woman. So we’re getting into that realm now. And I like that character very much. And I love the actress. I think she’s fantastic, so I’m looking forward to it.
On Lightman’s relationship with Foster
Roth: They get themselves into all kinds of trouble. What I think is good in what they’re writing is she calls him on his crap and that’s good. Their relationship is less one way. Whereas, in the past, he was doing his thing and getting away with it, now he gets caught in it and there is an element of confrontation that is there.
But I think that also the kind of love that they have for each other is explored more as well. And also the effect that women in his life, as they come and go, the effect that that has on Foster, the Foster character as it’s explored. As it was with when she was around a man, in the last season, with Lightman. So, I think you’re going to see a lot more. It’s going to be a very interesting time for their relationship. I think they’re going to get tested in a good way. It should be fun for the audience.
Will they/won’t they?
Roth: We played around with it. My thing is should they/shouldn’t they? We might be playing with the area in a much more direct way over the next season. [The writers] started to write for that Foster character and not just to make her a science kind of spouse. Once the writers started to invest in that character and how much [Foster and Lightman] loved each other, I think it started to come alive.
So, you’re going to see a lot more of their relationship and some of it isn’t going to be pretty. But I think people would be pleasantly surprised. I am. If I can get to work with Kelli during the day then I’m pretty happy.
On playing Cal Lightman
Roth: I like that he’s an absolute troublemaker. I like that’s he’s the guy that was in school at the back of the classroom causing trouble. He has a really, really difficult time of it with authority. He doesn’t take authority too seriously or lightly, and I like that aspect of him and it’s something that the writers now have embraced. There’s something about him. He’s up for a fight, but he’s a softy, really, at heart. He’s a very enjoyable character to play.
On what makes Lie To Me unique
Roth: I think the science does, in a sense. That’s what makes Paul Ekman unique, really. But, after that, what do you do with it, once you decide to put a show, or set a show around that where do you take the show? And I think what’s unique now, especially, is that the scripts are taking us into all kinds of interesting and new areas. In season one, I found it to be our kind of experiment in trying to get us to find ourselves. Season two, we came a little bit closer, but in season three, I think we found ourselves. So, hopefully, you’ll agree. But I think it’s actually what Paul Ekman does and that science that we’ve taken and run away with that makes it unique.
On his own lie-detecting ability
Roth: I think I’m getting worse at it. At the beginning, I didn’t want to know about any of this stuff, the science because it’s actually quite accurate and I suppose you could call it 70% science. I didn’t want to know. But you kind of gradually pick stuff up. I picked stuff up and I think it’s the one thing and it’s completely the opposite thing. And my judgment on it and my memory of what one thing means against another, it’s completely off.
So, I’m quite comforted by that fact. But, I didn’t want to know it. Now I know some of it and I get it wrong pretty much 100%. So, it hasn’t helped me see behind the lies at all because my main thing is learning my lines and making sure I show up on time.
On working on the show
Roth: I really enjoy it right now. I must say for the first time during this – I mean, sometimes last season, a lot I’d say – but mostly this season it’s been fantastic, tiring, but wonderful. I’m really enjoying it.
We work very, very hard. As a crew and as a team, [this is] one of the best I’ve worked with – and that’s over 30 years. They are a wonderful group and very talented. But we make sure that we laugh a lot. We play a lot and we enjoy our day. Our day is long and arduous, quite often physically, but an enjoyable time – a really, really good time.
Lie To Me Season 3 premieres 9p ET tonight on FOX. Check it out.