In HBO Films’ My Dinner with Hervé, the most famous dwarf actor of today, Peter Dinklage, portrays one of the most famous dwarf actors of all time, Hervé Villechaize, who is best known for playing Tattoo on Fantasy Island. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Dinklage speaks about playing Villechaize and how the industry has changed for dwarf actors since his 1993 death.
Dinklage admits that the hardest aspect of playing Villechaize was keeping up with the actor’s energy level. He explains, “Hervé lived pretty hard and I had to match his energy. And during a lot of the film he doesn’t feel physically very well at all. So it was those two things. He’s such a complicated man. He was such a bright light and everybody around him loved him so dearly. But he burned too brightly. Obviously, it’s a common tragedy in Hollywood. But he lived much longer than anybody expected him too. He was also in a tremendous amount of pain due to his dwarfism, both physical and spiritual, and he just couldn’t take it anymore.”
When asked if he believes that dwarf actors have more opportunities now than they did in Villechaize’s day, Dinklage says:
“I would like to think so. I try to be optimistic about it. I never really set out to change the parameters of casting. I just like good writing. The fame thing for me is a little hard. I don’t enjoy it… But yes, I’d like to think more opportunities are out there, but cynically it’s hard to speak to it without sounding like I’m not being critical of somebody else’s choices. I just know what I want in my career and I respect the choices of actors who are my size, or not, make. And I understand bills have to be paid. But it does perpetuate things. Not to get too political about it, but it’s a stereotype that still exists. Dwarf tossing still exists. There are still people of my size dressing up as elves at Christmas time. And if everybody continues to do that, then it won’t stop. But my daughter doesn’t think I’m a mythical creature. Unicorns don’t exist, but I do. It’s tricky, what we put out there, to perpetuate for future generations.”