Peter Dinklage: “I expected the entertainment business to see only my size and nothing else, so I wanted to pretend my size wasn’t who I was at all”

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peter-dinklage-game-of-thronesWith millions of fans tuning in each week, Game of Thrones is among the most popular television series HBO has ever had.  One of the most compelling characters on the show is Tyrion Lannister, who is portrayed by Peter Dinklage.  Dinklage has since won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing the character.  In an interview with  Playboy, Dinklage talked about working on the show and how he has come to terms with how he uses his small stature on screen.

Considering the high body count on Game of Thrones, one would think Dinklage would be somewhat concerned about being killed off at the height of his popularity.  However, Dinklage says he isn’t concerned, pointing out, “I don’t think Tyrion is going anywhere. He once said that he’d like to die ‘in my own bed, at the age of 80, with a belly full of wine and a girl’s mouth around my cock.’ I like to think that was a premonition. That’s how he’s going to go. He’s a survivor. But you’re right; it’s amazing how many major characters get killed this season. People who have read all the George R.R. Martin books that the show is based on tell me Tyrion’s still alive. We’re only on season three and there are five books. Tyrion hasn’t been killed yet, so I feel pretty secure.”

Humorously, despite the fact Dinklage gets to chop and stab people with a sword he says he doesn’t particularly feel like a tough guy because of how those scenes are filmed.  He explains, “There’s a scene in the show when I chop a man’s leg off from behind. The gentleman was probably about 70 years old. They filmed him from the back, so you don’t see how old he is. Also he’s an amputee. He had one leg, so basically I just knocked out the fake leg. I had a big dull sword, and I knocked a wooden leg off an amputee who was 70 years old. So to answer your question, no, I don’t feel like a badass. The fight scenes are all a big lie. The whole time, you’re trying not to get hit in the eye with a sword, and you wish you had on a welding helmet.”

Dinklage has become renowned for being a dwarf actor who has refused to take roles that he felt were degrading, including roles as leprechauns or other munchkin-like people.  He confess that it hasn’t been easy and admits that sometimes his stature is an advantage, saying, “It was never easy to say no. There were consequences, of course. I think I was more arrogant back then. I had this clear image of who I wanted to be, maybe too clear. I didn’t allow anything to break the outline of it. I was very protective and defensive, mostly because of my size. I expected the entertainment business to see only my size and nothing else, so I wanted to pretend my size wasn’t who I was at all and do roles that had nothing to do with it. But I was completely limiting myself and my career, because it is who I am. Look at roles like Tyrion. My size is obviously why I got the part. I wouldn’t be playing Tyrion if I wasn’t this size.”

However, he realizes that in the long run some of his choices did him more harm than good.  He explains, “I basically just decided not to have a career. That was my only option, or what I thought was my only option. And then I started meeting friends who were writers and directors, and I found a back door. They put me in independent films, such as The Station Agent and Living in Oblivion. I came to terms with using my size rather than being exploited by it.”

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About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...) For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

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