Currently starring as Tyrion Lannister on HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage has worked hard to avoid stereotypes throughout his career.
At just over four feet tall, Dinklage has had roles in The Station Agent and Elf, but has since reached wider acclaim with his role on the HBO fantasy show. In an interview with NPR, Dinklage spoke about his search for meaningful parts.
He said that he tries to find roles that tear down stereotypes, but “I’m not always successful at it. You do have to make a living and I do not fault anyone else who makes choices to play characters that they wish they hadn’t agreed to do, because at the end of the day, none of us are happy with our jobs all the time. But I just sort of—I had some perseverance in terms of what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do, and I think no is a very powerful word in our business that is very hard to use early on in your career. But I also think I was pretty arrogant when I was younger, so I used that word maybe too much, but it also helped me with finding roles that I did like.”
Dinklage says that he doesn’t mind that his character is referred to as an ‘imp’ on the show. “I don’t have a problem playing those characters as long as it’s told intelligently. It would be stupid if he wasn’t addressed as an imp or something in this world, given the surroundings. It does address the size issue, but it doesn’t knock you over the head with it, because you don’t really need to,” he says. “And I find all the scripts that I get that I’m not very interested in, it’s a constant reminder, every single page. Almost every single line is geared towards your height. And I just, in my day-to-day life, and any person who is my size’s day-to-day life, it happens, but it’s not a constant.”
The actor easily acknowledges that he might not be leading man material. He said, “It’s always a struggle. It’ll always be a struggle, I think, with any actor. The leads are often the boring part, though…I like playing the guy on the sidelines. They have more fun.”
Dinklage says that he knew he wanted to be an actor from a very young age despite the challenges of his height. “I don’t know when it starts. When you trace it back to when you were like a little child, you can’t remember this big moment. I think it’s a lot of little moments that build up into something that just forms who you are, your need to be an actor.”
Game of Thrones airs on HBO, Sunday nights at 9 PM.