“Acting is a trick. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. Elements of it are.” – Peter Dinklage
Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Dinklage makes a stunning transformation in playing fellow actor Hervé Villechaize in HBO’s movie My Dinner with Hervé. It’s a significant departure from his starring role on HBO’s Game of Thrones, which has brought him critical acclaim. Speaking with Vulture about performing as the famed Hervé, Dinklage revealed critical aspects about performing as Hervé and also shares some words of caution about actors who are too obsessed with method acting.
Not only is Dinklage about six inches taller than Hervé, but neither everything else about them, like their facial features and voices, are completely different. On the transformation, Hervé explains, “For the first time ever, I worked from the outside in. Hervé and I have a similar nose, but everything around our nose is different. And if you have the same nose, you don’t have to do as much to the rest of your face. So we did ‘less is more’ with the makeup. We just tweezed some eyebrows and put cheek-plumpers in because Hervé had big, round cheeks. The voice was more complicated, because even if you don’t know who Hervé was, you know what ‘ze plane, ze plane’ sounds like. I knew if I couldn’t get that then I shouldn’t play the role. It was important to me to get it, and it eventually came.”
In addition, Dinklage points out that Hervé was so famous that many people have a perception of whom he was without really knowing much about him — something that Dinklage says seems increasingly difficult for many actors in the age of social media. On that, he says, “Not knowing about the actor helps in believing in their performance. I worry about actors revealing what’s behind the curtain.”
Comparing the role of Hervé to playing Tyrion on Game of Thrones, Dinklage explains why it’s a lot easier to be a method actor on a short-term project like a film than a long-term one like a series — and also says that method can cross over to indulgent. He explains, “I was a little Method with Hervé — staying in that voice. But you can’t really be Method for nine seasons of a TV show. You’d go nuts. And there’s a difference between being Method and indulgent. You can smell that ego thing a mile away. It’s good to stay in the zone, but if it’s about showing off your peacock feathers, I’m not buying it. Acting is a trick. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. Elements of it are. For me, the fame thing is. But the work itself — we’re not digging ditches for a living. I think acting is one of the professions where everybody who’s doing it wants to be doing it. That’s not true for every job.”